Each day I work with small groups of students: struggling readers and English Language Learners. I absolutely love my job. Yet this week, as I worked with two young students who continue to struggle to learn letter names (sounds are nowhere in my sight lines with them yet), I had to remind myself that they are not yet capable of learning this information.

I teach and reteach. I find creative ways to reinforce the letters. I incorporate sensory matters and physical movement. We laugh and play as we learn. And still, the progress is painfully slow. Often I have to avoid the temptation of saying, “We just went over this.” or “You should know this.” Because, they don’t.

And with as much repetition and direct teaching as they are getting, I remind myself that they are not yet ready. They are trying. They want to know these arbitrary symbols that I call letters. They longĀ to join the world of the literate.

So my journey with them continues: I dig a little deeper for more patience and increasingly creative ways of teaching the same thing, and I look forward to the day when all 26 letters are identifiable.

Who will rejoice more? The jury is out.

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