The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 42

somehow inadvertently, fostering shame in students and turning them off reading, and I needed a way to change that.

How Shame Manifests in the Reading Classroom

To say that I wish to inspire confidence and help readers establish positive reading identities seems a bit idealistic. But when working with a classroom of readers in which 75% or more exhibit one or more signs of reading shame, inspiring confidence and promoting reading is easier said than done because shame is found in a multitude of ways, and several manifestations (See Figure 1). The first step is to be aware of how shame can manifest in the classroom. Then we will consider a model of reading workshop that defuses potentially shaming situations.


Reading for Meaning in the Workshop?

According to Fountas & Pinnell (2000), the overall goal of the reading workshop is to construct meaning within text. If students are repeatedly engaged in a reading workshop that focuses on decoding, accuracy, and prosody, even with retelling, they may not attend to meaning. The only reading process students develop is around decoding. When this pattern is repeated as readers advance through the levels, students form their definition of reading from those experiences, which do not include interpretation or analysis. For example, I meet countless students who, when asked to close read, consider meaning, or explain their interactions with text, become fraught with shame. They know they should be able to do what I ask, but they lack the tools necessary to analyze text and discuss their reading.

Shame-bound readers have seldom been asked to think about reading as a process that creates meaning from text and is relevant to their lives. Their understanding of reading, their entire value system as readers, is challenged by my instruction, which is really just my instructional toolkit combined with the expectations of curriculum and standards. My readers are overwhelmed by shame because they believed and defined themselves as good readers. I am positioned as a threat to their confidence, a mirror that highlights or reminds them of their inadequacies because of

pedagogical values or interpretations of expectations and standards.

Establishing Boundaries: Stepping Stones to Autonomy

Linda Dorn (2005) explains, “The ultimate goal of a workshop approach is to enable learners to acquire strategies for self-regulation of learning” (p. 66). Self-regulation could mean being able to draw on a variety of reading behaviors as the situation requires. Boundaries help a person become accountable, primarily to themselves. In a reading sense,

boundaries provide anchors for the reader to accept themselves and discover, for