When I started reading for SMART the emphasis was primarily to teach the kids to read. Lately, however, there has been more of a trend toward communicating with the children and establishing a sense of trust and comfort. I firmly believe that establishing trust with the student is very essential. If a feeling of trust is there, getting the kids to read is going to be much easier than if it’s not. The development of trust and bonding was, in my opinion, an important shift in the program over the years. Of course, the aim of teaching to read is still there, because that is what the program is based on. Regardless, I was really glad to see that the emphasis also includes establishing a comfortable, trusting relationship.
When I think back about my 12 years at SMART, there is a young girl that I recall. This girl was so shy, not only did we rarely read, but, initially, she would not even look up at me. At the end the year she became much more comfortable. The following year, I learned that this girl was reading very well. I would like to think that I had something to do with her achievement, at least I hope I did. It was quite a transformative experience for both of us, and it was very rewarding for me.