Presented with evidence,
her parents shift their eyes for one split second
before the smooth surface of denial
glosses their countenance .
upper middle class,
they paint themselves above numbers
that scream their daughter’s need
With a working memory of 69,
words become nebulous gasses—
instructions must be refreshed.
Redundancy becomes a classroom strategy
to facilitate student success.
“Our daughter is not stupid.”
Bare white shoulders shudder under
Reduced to tears
she bears their shame
behind closed doors.
“This will go in her permanent file,
so the high school understands why
we did not provide services to your child.”
Final answers disintegrate
when parents don’t sign a document
affirming their denial when all tests indicate
their child’s need for help.
At last, she sits in my classroom.
Geared up to show me she doesn’t belong.
We write and her work ethic
rises before my eyes.
This girl will develop strategies
to navigate the nebulous world of words on page.
She will pin ideas together in strings of meaning
threading a success she can weave into the story
of parental expectations that color her privileged
Brenda Warren 2012
True story. Sadly, difficulty in reading can be a stigma in some families. This girl will be successful in my classroom because she has a strong work ethic. I am lucky to be her teacher.
Working memory is measured on a scale that goes from 40 to 160. The curriculum I teach is cyclical. Each lesson is divided into six steps, and each step has some redundancy. That repeated practice helps my students develop strategies to read and write.
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