For the 27th Annual Billie J. Askew Reading Recovery Conference and K-6 Reading Institute, one of the keynote speakers was Jan Burkins. I had the honor of meeting with her and introducing her at the conference. Her work has greatly inspired my teaching practice. My favorite book of hers that I share with classroom teachers is Who’s Doing the Work: How to say less so readers can do more (Burkins & Yaris). What was so powerful for me was the idea that I was giving the students too much support, in essence telling them that I don’t trust that they can handle the difficult word on their own. What I learned was to let the student have their “productive struggle” and offer support in a way that the student is problem solving, rather than the teacher doing the problem solving for them. After all, we won’t always be there when our students come across something that they need support with. We need to give them the tools, and the confidence to tackle anything that comes their way.
“Read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read until words become your friends. Then when you need to find one, they will jump into your mind, waving their hands for you to pick them. And you can select whichever you like, just like a captain choosing a stickball team.”