Know Thy Self

What do you see when you walk pass a mirror? Is it just a brief glimpse of yourself or do you see the small details?It is only when we stop in front of the mirror and slowly look at ourselves that we really see who we are.

Who are you as a reader? How do you make sense of text? How do you understand text? Ponder these questions as you continue to read.  These are questions I have asked  pre-service and in-service teachers.  The initial response is silence. After a few minutes, I get responses like, “I make connections”, or “I visualize”. While these are strategies readers use when they read, they read with “soften eyes”similar to the glimpse in the mirror. The glimpse allows the eyes to take in the story including the things the story makes you hear, smell, feel, see and taste. However, to truly make sense of text or understand, readers must read with a “sharp focus”. It is this “sharp focus” that allows readers to notice what they are thinking as they read for understanding.

In order to make sense of text or understand, readers must first identify the behaviors and actions that demonstrate understanding. This identification process begins with knowing oneself-knowing how you come to understanding. To know yourself as a reader, pay attention to what it feels like when you do not understand the next time you read . Be aware of what you do when this happens. Pay attention to what it feels like when you understand. Notice what specific words help you to create visuals or make connections. Think about how the visuals and connections help you understand the text. Listen to the voice in your head as you read. What is it saying? Think about how this internal monologue helps you understand. In other words, pay attention to what causes the ebb and flow of your reading. Having this awareness is like seeing reading with a new lens.

Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University says, “Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight.”

What are you noticing about yourself when you use the pause button?

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