​Last week our black goldfish, Kicker, indicated a desperate need for help.

It was pretty obvious. One day he was floating at the top of the tank, unable to swim. Still very much alive, he seemed trapped at the surface of the water. After a day or two of this, I wondered what, if anything, could be done.

I researched the condition: Swim bladder disorder. Kicker has all the symptoms.

I applied the recommended solution: Feeding him cooked, skinned green peas (I wonder who discovered this and how?).

Problems ensued. Most of the green pea chunks that I tried to feed Kicker either came apart or sank too quickly, before he could get to them; although Kicker can move, it’s limited. He has great trouble maneuvering and navigating. I watched with increasing concern – how long can a tiny, ailing fish last in this suspended state?

I did more research. One site recommended putting the green pea chunks on a toothpick.


As you can see in the video clip, it worked.

Each day I am able to make sure Kicker eats his peas. He sees me coming and excitedly tries to meet me, paddling himself backwards, sideways, upside down, whatever way he can, to get his sustenance.

Kicker’s still kicking, but he’s not well yet.

Another layer of intervention is needed, apparently.

I can’t help but think of all the children who struggle with reading.

Very quickly, their needs become obvious – these readers cannot keep pace or go deep like their classmates. The reasons are varied and must be explored; a diagnosis must be made, an approach must be developed. Research-based strategies that worked for others can be employed, but time is of the essence – is it working or isn’t it? Is the child making progress or not? How long can a child float at the surface in such a suspended state before the condition worsens? What are the long-term ramifications? What else can be tried for the sake of the child, whose future is at stake?

To not do anything is to . . . well, in Kicker’s case, it’s to watch him die.

When I first started teaching, a well-respected teacher told me, “You can’t save them all.”

Those remain some of the most chilling words I’ve ever heard.

What if that was my child?

Would I not do everything in my power, seeking the advice of others, hunting down books on interventions and overturning every virtual stone in cyberspace, to find answers? Would I not TRY?

As I write, Kicker watches me from his tank. He’s waiting for me, for whatever help I can give him. When I go to him, he will meet me and do the best that he can. I will try another research-based strategy today, as I don’t know when his window of time will close.

We owe the children no less.


If you’d like to read Part One of Kicker’s saga: Flipover



2 thoughts on “Fintervention 

  1. I don’t even know where to start here!

    First, that title (and description) were the ultimate hook! I may pull this up for my students next fall and show them how to truly get their readers to click on that link.

    “When I first started teaching, a well-respected teacher told me, ‘You can’t save them all.’ ”

    This is like the statement: “Well, we’ve always done it this way.” #what
    Students and teachers a like, it drives me crazy when people say this, because in doing so, you limit yourself to what you know. What if there’s a better way? Well, we’ve always done it this way, so we don’t know about it!

    You can’t save them all limits you to those students who play the game “student” well. What about those Kickers of the world, coming to school hungry, scared, bullied, without a mom or dad, without a support system will lead to success? If we aren’t giving our very best to every child, every day, why are we teaching?

    And just like with Kicker, we don’t know when that “window of time will close” with our students and their will to learn. We’ve got a relatively small window, we need to do as much as we can while we’ve got it.

    Thank you for the most excellent slice! And just keep swimming, Kicker! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read your response several times, Darin – wow! That the slice resonated with you so much is a joy to me. Secondly – you’re so right about the thinking or mindsets and every child deserving our best. To not give it seems an ethical failure, a failure of conscience. A friend has texted me: “What if medical doctors walked around saying ‘I can’t save them all?'” There’s an obligation to TRY. Yes, our window is so small; creative thinking and energy are absolutely necessary for the task. Thank you for your thoughts and by all means, use the slice with the kids if you like! We never know what might click with them and motivate them until we TRY. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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