Over twelve weeks ago a journey began. It all began with a goal to lose some extra pounds that needed to be taken off.  The journey also involves my life passion…empowering readers. This passion is weaved in my daily life…in almost everything I do.

After the holidays I committed myself to a diet that I heard about from a friend. One of the components of the program was to spend 17 minutes exercising a day. Seventeen minutes…doable…a goal I could commit to. After a few weeks the seventeen minutes stretched to sixty and sometimes, even seventy-five minutes. I even found myself jogging indoors to a few songs during my Wii walking program. This was surprising because the last time I remember running was the fifty yard dash in sixth grade. Long distance running was not on my radar. Detest would be the word I would use to describe my feelings about running.

One evening I opened an email from a colleague about a running group she was going to lead, Run for God. The twelve week program would get one ready for a 5K with a spiritual emphasis. Yes, I needed growth in that area also. Then a few conversations from reading conferences popped into my mind. “I don’t like to read.” a third grade student says to me as she defiantly glares at me. I ask her if she felt this way in second grade. “Yes,” she replies. “Well, what about first grade?” She responds with, “I hate reading!”  I try again, “Do you have any favorite books that were read to you in kindergarten?”  “NO, I don’t like to read.” she says with an assertive voice.  I then go for humor as I keep smiling…even though I’m wincing inside.  “You must have been born this way! I am so sorry. I just love to read Well, we do have to get through this.” Maybe there is a hint of a smile. There have been similar conversations with other reluctant readers. Back to Run for God. It hits me. I need to do something that I don’t want to do and is hard for me. Other thoughts are playing in the back of my mind. This experience will be great fodder for reading focus lessons. I can tell reluctant and/or struggling readers that if you keep at it, you will become a strong reader and you will like it. Beginning of journey…

This past week the IDOE (Indiana Department of Education) posted IREAD test scores. Tomorrow morning I will take the “IRUN” test…the 5K that I have trained for.

Some observations:

Class attendance has dwindled because of injury, life, or giving up.

All people do not have to train the same. Some do not have to follow the training plan and they run just as well or even better. It is just more difficult for some than others. Guess which group I’m in?

Some people love to run.

I stalk runners. I ask them questions about running. I am the farmer who drives slowly as he passes fields of crops to compare them to his own growing crops. I slow down and gawk at runners beside the road. I look at their form. How do they make look so easy?

I read books about running. I read books about people who reached a lofty goal like swimming the English Channel. I know…it’s only a 5K but it might as well be the Ironman.

The metacognitive strategies I teach to readers are a lifeline to me. Visualization has been so important…of course, the run in my head usually is better than the actual one.

I can’t run without music. I have added, deleted, and rearranged my playlist several times. Intentional choices. Now my running daughter says it is invigorating to run without music…clears the head. Not there…not sure if I will get there.

I’m surrounded by mentors and supporters and fellow runners…can’t begin to tell you how much this means. I would have given up without those surrounding me.

This has been a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey that I didn’t quite expect. I mean I knew it would be…but not to this depth.

Let me tell you…I TOTALLY get those students who dislike or even hate reading…I TOTALLY get readers who are frustrated…those who are trying their best and still having difficulties…I TOTALLY get the feelings an unsuccessful reader has when those around him are succeeding and I TOTALLY can understand those readers who have given up…but we can’t let them.

When I first began it was difficult to run thirty seconds…I can now run on most days at least 35-45 minutes. It depends on the day though. I have made a lot of progress but I don’t know if I will be able to run the complete distance. That is my goal. Just like many of our third grade students when they took IREAD. Some have made lots of progress but didn’t make the cut score. Some of them are in my remediation group. Remediation is mandated by the state to get them ready for a summer retake. It doesn’t matter if they have made progress…they have to make that score.

Teacher evaluations come to mind. The instructor for Run for God was wonderful…differentiated instruction, provided engaging learning activities, and delivered content. Is she ineffective if all of “her students” do not cross the line with a certain time even though several could not run 30 seconds before beginning the class?  What about those who did not attend the classes or did their assignments? How about those who had life happen?

Tomorrow is the big day. Hoping for a restful night. I did my “assignments” and then some but I’m still nervous. I’ll be digging deep to reach my endurance goal… : ) I guess I could retake IRUN and then if I don’t pass that…

One of the running books that I read was The Running Shoes. This is the inspiring story of a young Cambodian girl, Sophy, who learns to read and write…with the help of a pair of running shoes.

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4 Responses to IREAD…I mean IRUN

  1. Tam says:

    I’ve been thinking of you a lot since I heard your big race is tomorrow. I’ve told other people about you, too. Love the thoughts about your instructor and teacher evaluations. I can hardly wait for your final thoughts on running and reading. You’ve come a long way in any case, Deb.

  2. steve says:

    I usually restrain from comment, but I am so TOTALLY in love with the person you are!

  3. Colette says:

    Hey you…GO FOR IT…go get ’em! See you at the finish!

  4. runningfancy says:

    You’re my running soulmate. I too stalk, and am in awe of runners. I slow down to study their form. Also, I try to connect to my handful of reluctant junior high readers. I like your response of well, “we just Toyota get through this” —- enlightening. Thank you! I hope to read more posts about how it’s going!

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