Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I'll Scratch Your Back...

Learning to read is a difficult task. The further into the process a young reader progresses, the more difficult it grows. The words become longer, the vowels get a little squirrely, punctuation marks appear and must be heeded and then come all of those capital letters and words that sound nothing like the sum of their parts. It's enough to drive a five-year-old back to her recently forsaken naps.

As Molly gets into the more tedious portion of her reading lesson each day, her little hand works its way around to her back, just at her waist where she will begin to tug at the hem of her shirt. 

Often I am more focused on the page than on the student and I miss this signal, for that's exactly what it is. She is making sure that I know that the reading is getting more difficult and please, will I scratch her back to assist her in completing the challenge.

Often I place her hand back on her book and place her finger under the word with which she struggles and tell her to keep working. There are days though when it just seems best to give a little scratch and ease her work, not everyday mind you, I won't be there when she's in college doing research to scratch her back and make it all better, but today, and maybe next week, I'm happy to lend a hand.

When I begin scratching that little back, the words being sounded out begin flowing freer and more fluently. The voice that was weary under the weight of the task becomes light and eager in its doing. 

I suspect that we're all a little like Molly. We face our own sorts of challenges, all having goals toward which we strive. Some days, we motor along just fine in the direction of success, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way. On such wonderful days learning to read is a breeze. Every word sounds out just like it should and the story makes complete sense.

Other days are full of heartache, unwelcome surprises, and nasty words hurled about that whether aimed at you or not, achieve their mark with unfortunate accuracy and stick like tar to your soul, oozing into your long term memory.

Tough, miserable days come like the box cars on a freight train, day after day pulling a heavy load of discontent and discouragement that travel with such speed with such noise that the sights and sounds on the way to reaching our dreams all but fade beneath the clatter and bang of boxcar after boxcar after boxcar of defeat. On days like these, the sounding out is difficult, all of the "special words" have appeared on the page. The ones that break the rules that I've been learning and practicing but that today no longer hold true. The words and the stories just don't make sense to me and my hand begins to creep around to my back...

Three hundred and fifty reading lessons into my teaching experience and I remain amazed at what a little bit of encouragement, sincerely given, can accomplish. Three hundred and fifty reading lessons into my teaching experience have also shown me the vicious power of impatience and fault-finding and pride. 

As the reading teacher, I have a choice. As a child of the King, I have a command...

{Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29}
That tomorrow I would choose to give a little scratch of edification when the words don't sound out easy for those in my home and to friends with whom I worship and to every tar-splattered soul God sends across my path whether they cross it well or whether they stumble over that long "e" sound again.

Join me won't you?
 I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine. 
Sound good?

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."
~Proverbs 16:24


Sudeana said...

Thanks! On a day where my words aren't following the rules I have learned this past year I feel like you just scratched my back a bit and reminded me its ok to lean into the scratching. Love ya!

G'ma suz said...

What a very wise young teacher! Love, Mom

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