This is Louise. She’s a hero worthy of song.
Flat out, every day, from 9 o’clock ‘til 1 o’clock, with some time off at recess, she cycles kids through her workstation giving them their daily doses of speech therapy.
She’s got a timer. They get 10 minutes each. Then off they go and call the next one for their turn.
She doesn’t lose her patience. She doesn’t get bored. She’s warm and welcoming to each child as if they’re the only one she’s seeing that day.
Louise does not waste a minute of that 10. She knows that every second counts – and every interactive response counts. She’s following individualised speech therapy programs for each child. She knows just what to do and she tracks their progress. She gets updates from the speech pathologist when the goals need updating.
Louise knows that the children’s futures depend upon it. Speech production, language growth, phonemic awareness, and rock-solid phonics knowledge are the foundations of literacy. And this makes them the foundations of the children’s futures.
Because when you can read and write – all the other opportunities open up.
Louise’s workstation is in the corridor outside the Prep and Grade 1 classrooms – and Grades 2 & 3 are not far away.
Louise elected for the corridor. And set it all up. She did have a nicer, cushier room. But time was being lost travelling back and forth to the classrooms between children – and they were only getting six minutes therapy each as a result. So she chose the corridor. The transition time is down to 20 seconds.
Louise is a teacher assistant in a proud and connected little school. It’s in a part of our town that is heavy with systemic disadvantage. But this school and its community are beating that back.
They have high expectations, fountains of dignity, and the #ScienceOfReading.
Systemic disadvantage is the result of systemic discrimination.
Louise, and the St Paul’s Catholic School community, have no such discrimination. They flow with the enabling treasures of connection.
Of course, Louise herself is enabled too.
She is enabled by Jo, the Principal, and the entire leadership team. Their determination and flexibility in equal measure have supported Louise and provided everything she needs to be equipped, safe and warm.
She is enabled by Anne, the Student Support Coordinator. Anne knows that all upper primary success rests on getting these foundations laid.
Louise is enabled by the entire staff. They admire her and are amazed by her. She keeps churning it out and churning it out. She’s indefatigable. And they cheer her on and hi-5 her little charges at every passing. Everyone is enriched.
This Clinic-In-A-Corridor is the absolute pinnacle of team respect and collaboration. Everyone knows that everyone’s part counts. Those little futures depend on the mosaic of every contribution. The whole team are making their every minute count as preciously as Louise does at the coal-face (often vegemite-face).
And the kids are making soooooooooooo much rapid progress. They’re progressing faster than I’ve ever seen.
I wouldn’t have come up with the Clinic-In-A-Corridor. I only know how to come up with the program. The wheels under this structure giving it its speed is the natural emergence of a team who love each other, encourage each other, and share joint goals – the kids!