…I started tutoring again last night.Â
It was great to see M. again (she’s my only student this year, with two lessons a week), and to have my ego pumped by finding out how much she disliked working with another tutor up at their summer home these past couple of months.Â (Let’s face it: we all like to have our ego pumped up.Â It’s part of being human.)Â And I’m happy to report that tutoring on Monday and Wednesday nights feels much more manageable and sane than last year’s Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday schedule.Â It’s a good feeling to do my tutoring gigs at the beginning of the week, when I’m fresh – or at least fresher.
The interesting side of my lesson with M. last night was discovering that her Wilson tutor for the summer didn’tÂ faithfully adhere to the Wilson lesson plan and techniques.Â A bit puzzling, considering that when I got certified in Wilson (in the summer of 2001), my trainer was extremely strict about following the structure of the Wilson Reading System to the letter (so to speak).Â No deviations were allowed.Â Period.Â If we trainees didn’t follow the system, we wouldn’t get certified.Â
And then I find out that M.’s summer tutor deviated in odd ways from the Wilson system.Â For example, this tutor wouldn’t let M. see the sound cards in the decoding Quick Drill; M. told me that the tutor “hid the cards” from M. and simply asked her “What are the keywords for ‘a’?”Â Wait a second – what about the sound/symbol connection, Ms. Summer Tutor?Â Don’t you realize that is a hugely important part of teaching a child with dyslexia??
Ms. Summer Tutor also didn’t have M. write down any sounds on her dictation pages – once again demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of how the WRS works.Â And Ms. Tutor didn’t have M. set up her own dictation pages, but instead used the pre-made dictation forms that can be downloaded from the Wilson website.Â Â I feel the student’s setting up of her own dictation page is incredibly important, as it both builds a sense of being a partner inÂ her own education, and also helps the student with transfering information from one page (the dictation template) to another (the actual dictation page) -Â a skill which comes into play when trying to copyÂ information and assignments from the teacher’s whiteboard to the student’s notes.Â
Another deviation that Ms. Summer Tutor made was to completely and totally skip the Step 10 Posttest.Â This tutor simply moved M. on to Step 11 without confirming that M. had mastered the concepts of Step 10.Â Wait a second.Â The Wilson Reading System, as I was taught it, is all about achieving mastery and fluency.Â There are firm guidelines for grading the posttests to ensure that the student has mastered all of the taught concepts and is fully fluent in decoding and encoding words with those concepts.Â If the student fails the posttest, review of the step is required before moving on to the next step.Â Skipping the posttest isn’t an option.Â Most interestingly, Ms. Summer Tutor sent me an update saying that substep 10.5 had been introduced but not mastered, and that substep 11.1 also had been introduced.Â So it was a conscious shirking of the mastery and fluency rules.Â What’s up with that??
It’s disappointing to me that a parent looking for a Wilson tutor has to know how to ask all the right questions, and can’t simply depend upon the tutor having official Wilson certification.Â I take my role as a Wilson certified tutor very, very seriously, and I don’t invent things or change things.Â Barbara Wilson spent many years and much research developing this system, and it works.Â Don’t mess with it.Â In not messing with the WRS, I’ve had a great deal of success teaching students with dyslexia and other language based learning disabilities.Â Other Wilson certified tutors should have respect for Barbara Wilson’ s work, and not mess around with what she spent years perfecting.Â
Wow, I sound like some sort of cult member.Â But seriously, my many successful students prove my point, and justify this soap box moment of mine.Â And now I’ll step down from that soap box.Â Thanks for listening!!