Methodology, Principles of Learning, Reading Interventions, School-wide Literacy
Comments 4

Reflections on Hidden Potential

Dark Mountain Reflection (Unsplash)

One of the themes I have been reflecting on is the great tragedy of modern education: the wasted potential of literally millions of students who underachieve because they were not taught to read properly. There are two main reasons for this: poor reading strategies in early reading, and artificial ceilings caused by low expectations derived from low reading performance – in short, labels.

Rocket powered snail.png (Wikipedia)

The natural home for reading interventions (and it’s not SEN) challenges this practice of assigning students a disability label based on how well they are reading. The evidence is that when taught explicitly and systematically (and when faulty ‘guessing’ strategies have been addressed) nearly all but a handful of students can read at the ‘normal’ level for their age. Without doubt, this post generated the strongest reactions from readers.


“You will always have students who will fail” deals with low expectations based on poor behaviour. By making use of basic principles, more specialised strategies, and effective whole school systems, it is possible to turn students around. And when we consider that poor behaviour is often linked to poor literacy, it is essential that both are addressed.

Stairs - spiral - Alabama

A question of progress follows the theme of challenging low expectations, which often arise not so much from the student’s ‘lack of ability’ as from inefficient or confusing presentation, lack of practice to fluency, insufficient practice materials, or labeling. What happens when we change the teaching?

Three_lovebirds_on_a_perch-8a (Wikimedia)

Two for company – three for learning shines a light onto the power of quality instruction to change student outcomes. For effective teaching to take place, instruction is the third partner alongside the teacher and the student. It is possible to know what works, how well it is working, and what to do if it isn’t working well enough. As teachers we have the power to change the instruction and as a result change students’ outcomes.

Two more posts that promote systematic teaching rather than low expectations:

Code-Teaching or Code-Breaking?

7 Misconceptions About Teaching Adolescents to Read

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  1. Pingback: Reflections on Challenge | thinkingreadingwritings

  2. Pingback: Reflections on the Hard Road to Success | thinkingreadingwritings

  3. Pingback: Reflections on Journeys | thinkingreadingwritings

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