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Creating Connections to Mindset – Why Students Fail Throughout School
My life has been spent teaching the most “vulnerable” students to read.
I will never forget some of my students and the conditions that placed them in the lowest position in school – in the Special Education room – where they completed meaningless worksheets for meaningless grades only to repeat this process every day.
First Case Study:
Amy was eleven when I met her. I recalled watching her sitting in our small “pull-out”
classroom. She was loud, boisterous, & engaging. Yet, from what I could see, totally illiterate.
I heard conversations, had an idea of the worksheets she was completing, and I was dismayed. I
saw a mismatch between the teaching she was receiving and her knowledge.
She became one of my students, and I wrote about our journey together.
The question of why Amy had failed for so long in a small reading group caused me to write
Why was she allowed to sit in a classroom and fail daily?
For three years, Amy was in a pull-out reading program – the Stevenson Reading Program.
Each year she was instructed to use book one of this series. After summer break, she returned to
school to recall nothing of her previous instruction. Book 1 was repeated and repeated, creating
no change in her reading.
I can only speculate as to Why?
Was it because the teacher believed in the program, and when a child failed, it was the child’s
Did the teacher believe “this was all Amy was capable of achieving?”
Was it because her father struggled with literacy?
This is where I believe that a teacher’s MINDSET fits in.
I do not know what was going through the mind of that Reading Teacher. I just know that Amy
attended school every day, she was with her Reading Teacher every day, and every day, Amy
failed to learn to read.
By the time Amy became my student at age 11, I knew she could not identify either a short or a
I worked with Amy five days per week, 1 hour per day. This timing is critical, and daily,
consistent, reflective intervention was critical for her reading success.
Amy learned to read and write, pass standardized tests, and was enrolled in Texas Tech
University in Lubbock. Amy was capable of learning to read and write and the teaching method, our “Mindset”, failed Amy.
Second Case Study:
Twayne was 16 years old and in the 10th grade when we met. He struggled to read the first ten
He spent every day in school, only to fail. He was diagnosed with a learning disability early on
and placed in numerous reading programs. Sometimes with other students, sometimes by
himself. Other times Twayne was placed in front of a computer screen and completed some
reading activity. Nothing stuck for Twayne.
My mindset and my inner words are always strong…I can teach this child to read.
In this class, I had two students, Twayne and Pedro. Working as a group was a huge bonus and
again, provided with adequate time – ninety minutes every other day. As my students were in
high school, their timetable allowed this schedule. It worked.
Twayne struggled with all aspects of literacy, yet, I still taught him to read and write. After three
years, he was reading on a low third-grade level. Insufficient life skills, yet, I demonstrated that
many more children could be taught to read with daily, consistent, reflective teaching.
Our students live with OUR inability to provide life-long reading skills.
Again, Our students live with OUR inability to provide life-long reading skills.
What statements does your inner voice say about some challenged students in your class?
Parents: What do we think about our children who struggle every day?
Call to Action:
For the full story of both Amy and Twayne, grab a copy of my book Reversed: A Memoir.
Take a read. Leave a review. Reach out and change YOUR MINDSET about your children’s learning now so we can change THEIR future for the better.
Lois Letchford’s dyslexia came to light at the age of 39, when she faced teaching her seven-year-old non-reading son, Nicholas. Examining her reading failure caused her to adapt and change lessons for her son. The results were dramatic. Lois qualified as a reading specialist to use her non-traditional background, multi-continental experience, and passion to assist other failing students. Her teaching and learning have equipped her with a unique skillset and perspective. As a teacher, she considers herself a “literacy problem-solver.”
Reversed: A Memoir is her first book. In this story, she details her dyslexia and the journey of her son’s dramatic failure in first grade. She tells of the twist and turns that promoted her passion and her son’s dramatic academic turn-a-round - as in 2018, he received his Ph.D.
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