Confessions of a Reading Interventionist

Written by Audrey Hollis

“In my experience, a teacher’s child, much like a preacher’s child, is simply the worst.”- Anonymous

My coworkers and I were looking forward to Spring Break, but we were also worried – not because rumors of COVID were spreading to the US and people were buying up all the toilet paper, but because our Reading Intervention students had made so much progress and we did not want them to regress over the break.

We work with groups of four children at a time. Our students struggle to pay attention in class, grasp simple reading concepts, and behave and follow simple instructions. Many also lack self-esteem, and when they came to us, they could not read. The consistency and support we interventionists provide are essential to their success. They were learning and smiling and making progress. 

I know how important it is not only because I am an educator, but because I have two struggling children of my own at home. My daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD and my son with dyslexia and ADHD. School has not been easy for them, and now I have been at home with them 24-7 for weeks, which honestly feels like years. Truly, I have no idea what day it is!

While the older of the two is in first grade and enrolled at a specialized school, she mostly needs help with time management, logging into virtual classrooms, uploading assignments, gathering her supplies, and staying on task. This may sound pretty easy, especially for the technically savvy (so I thought of myself pre COVID), but it has quickly proven to put me into the class of the technologically challenged! 

Every Friday, I am bombarded with emails that start with, “Happy weekend!” I delay reading these emails until Sunday or Monday morning because after we finish schoolwork on Friday, I feel like I deserve a ticker-tape parade, which is basically what my house looks like daily.

I scramble to print out all the attachments that come with my daughter’s assignments. The app store is the only one I have visited outside of HEB, and I have had to shamefully look at my child’s teacher in the eye through a computer screen and apologize for a late assignment.

My younger son, who is in kindergarten, lacking the daily positive peer pressure from classmates of sitting still for more than 5 seconds, along with the practice of following directions from his wonderful classroom teacher (God knows how much I miss this woman) has my skunk stripe growing wider each day. I thought I had the patience of Job, but my son has crushed this self-proclaimed attribute, and I will never be able to use it to answer an interview question again.

In January (although we had our suspicions), he was officially diagnosed with ADHD. We do not have him on any medication, nor had we planned on getting him some anytime soon. This discussion has now come under significant reconsideration.  

Some school days are far more productive than others. They all come with lots and lots of “brain breaks.” Other days are filled with rolling around on the carpet, turning flips in the chair, pencils up the nose, and my favorite – the constant interruptions:

I need something from my room.

Want to hear a song I just made up?

I see the cat.

I’m freezing (followed by collecting every blanket in the house).

My toe hurts.

There’s a bug in the house!

Wanna see a trick on my bike?

When you were on the phone (and you thought I was doing a worksheet), I emptied all the baking soda onto the driveway because I wanted to see what would happen!

Not every day (ok never) does my homeschooling run like my small group classroom, but I am proud of my children. We are learning to work together, they have consistency and practice, and they are learning to read.

In a society where literacy is so critical, I worry daily about my students who need a classroom even more than my kids do. I worry about their home life and basic needs, and I know my coworkers share this worry with me. We look forward to our reunion, and although we know it will look different than what we were expecting upon return, we cannot wait to start teaching our students again!