Slipping Backward

We are back in the swing of things and workshops have begun. Students are excited and eager. We are excited and eager to make the growth of the new year happen and then…we see the slip. What do we do?

I recently changed grade levels. I have been a preschool, kindergarten and/or first grade teacher for the past fourteen years and this year I ventured into third. I was excited for the challenge. I was excited to try out things on third grade writers that I had always wanted to do with my littles but never had the chance to try.

The students entered the room and it was clear that these kids could not only blow their nose and for the most part tie their shoes, but they had stories too! They were ready to decorate their writer’s notebooks and excited to have writing binders. They were eager and they were met with an even more eager teacher. I looked over their past writing pieces and was even more excited. So many possibilities and a whole year to dive in.

Then I gave the on-demand assessment. Again, I was still amazed at what they could do, but a little terrified at the effects summer had taken on them. It was more writing than I had ever experienced, but I also knew we would have a long way to go.

Summer slide is real and the effects have a great impact on student learning. However, what about the slips and slides during the school year? How do we address the issue of new learning and the slide that is inevitable? We watch our nudges and are intentional in our teaching.

Here are some things to think about:

When we teach new learning, it is likely that students will slide in other areas. It’s important to remind students of all they are capable of. When we are conferring with students, nudge them to new heights but remind them of all they can already do.

Ask students what is in their way. Often there are things that derail students from new learning. Ask them, “What is distracting you from doing all you can do?” We can often make environmental changes to get kids back on track.

Give them time. Often times students just need time to process new learning. If prior learning is lost due to new content or a break, it will often come back quickly.

Check your nudges. Make sure that every nudge you give individual students is appropriate. If you are specific in your scaffolding and don’t see a change it may be that the student was not ready. Always evaluate the work and make decisions based on their independent samples.

Celebrate! Make time for celebrations. They pop up in every part of the process if we look for success.