Avoiding the Panic Associated with TDA

The work of text dependent analysis is challenging. It’s challenging for me, and I’m highly qualified, trained, and experienced, so I can only imagine how overwhelming this challenge can be for kids. Like anything, I learn more and can support kids because I do the work myself. All. The. Time.

Doing the work that I expect kids to do keeps it real, and I get a lot of respect from kids as a result because I am rolling up my sleeves just like I ask them to do. I experience just how challenging and frustrating it can be, and I pay attention to the strategies I use to work through the challenges.

By doing the work myself, I can better determine what kids need because they need specific, direct instruction. They need a whole lot of modeling. They need coaching in small groups and through conferring. And what I rediscovered last night while I was writing, they need to be able to talk about it a lot. If you are not providing ongoing and continuous support in these areas, you will no doubt be met with frustration, and I highly recommend that you stop assigning the work.

I have been modeling my TDA work recently with sixth graders when it was brought to my attention how many kids were frustrated when doing an on-demand preassessment for a reading unit in the middle school.

I did what I recommend every teacher do and took the assessment myself to have a clearer picture of how I would go about it. It wasn’t easy, but I used the strategies that I teach and went through all of the steps myself.

Imagine if every teacher on a team did the work. Imagine the possibilities we would see because they should not all look and sound the same. They should not all have the same claim or number of paragraphs. This should and can be done at every level. Yes, I know our plates are full, and it would take time. I am telling you, however, the insight gained is worth every single second and will not only save you time in the long run on planning but will save your students a whole lot of frustration because you can better support them. Better yet, by doing the work, kids will have more respect for what you have to say because you are showing them that you are willing to learn right along with them and overcome the challenges of the TDA.

Fortunately, I am seeing first hand how deliberate direct instruction, modeling, partnerships, conferring, and small group work is providing the sixth graders at Faust with the tools to be successful, and it is such a blessing to see their confidence grow. While the struggle is real, frustration and panic is not an issue.

I apologize for standing on my soapbox, but I truly believe in the power of this work. I look forward to sharing more of the Adventures in TDA soon!

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