But not me, never one to be too sure. When Kim, David, Brad and Kevin turned into Caty, Blake, Jessie, and many more, I turned my focus away from Whole Language and taught them using phonics. It wasn’t like today. Phonics, in fact, was highly out of favor. I attended a meeting at the same junior high school that I had once attended in support of Billy, a sixth grade struggling reader who I thought deserved a chance.
My one time home room teacher, the principal and the school psychologist (who knew me well, by the way) laughed at and belittled me for using phonics. I felt like I was twelve again, failing to win my mother’s approval.
By the end of the day, this twenty-four year old, not-so-newly- minted Ph.D. was sobbing on the steering wheel.
About 10 years after my initial foray into phonics, it earned an endorsement from the National Reading Panel. Children taught with phonics generally experience better outcomes than children taught with whole language.
In other words, I was right all along. Or was I?