This was Jan’s first ever That Reading Thing session. She was meeting these lads for the first time in a small secondary school for young people with social, behavioural and educational difficulties – the exact environment which inspired the creation of That Reading Thing. I am so grateful for people like Jan (and Russell, who started yesterday) who are willing to take a risk and jump right in with young people who come in complex packages. It’s obvious from the following that she just “gets it”.
Here’s what she wrote:
I met my two students Sam and Matt this morning. Matt was due to be first up, but did a bolt as soon as he saw me! He was persuaded to return after Sam’s session and he sailed through the sessions (we got to session 10/11 with both) very readily, albeit with an “I’m only doing this because it’s slightly better than the alternative” kind of attitude.
Apparently Matt has significant temper control issues, so I was pleased to make him laugh at one point and he did say he would give it another go next Wednesday – he did actually look me eye to eye by the end of the session, which I considered a result.
Sam was easier in some ways, but very nervous particularly when he didn’t recognize a word. It took a little while for him to understand that I wanted him to say sounds rather than letters, but once he got that I felt he put a lot of effort in. He listened well and was keen to “have a go” (he did explain at one point that he was only looking at his phone to make sure he had enough time to finish building his sound box in woodwork! I was pleased to be able to say I would make sure that he did as he was working so well).
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for more from a first experience. Duncan, the English tutor, also said that Callum, who worked with Russell yesterday, came back into his class and just got on with things (which apparently is unusual) – Duncan felt maybe he came away from Russell feeling more confident.
Of course TRT is about reading but, from the perspective of a young person who “doesn’t do education”, it’s also about a small change in attitude, getting through a new thing without losing your temper, having a laugh, risking making a mistake in front of a stranger, having a go, trusting an adult enough to look them in the eye and feeling a little bit more confident in a classroom. That’s an awful lot of outcomes for a couple of hour’s work.