On Climate Change and Hard Days of Teaching…

Sometimes teaching is really hard.

But even when I feel like I’m in a rut as a teacher, or if I feel like my classes aren’t moving forward fast enough, or I worry that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do with my students, if I sit back for ten minutes and reflect on the first half of the school year, I have to conclude that things are going well.

Because yes, I feel all of those things as a teacher. Frustration about time constraints and that maybe all of my students aren’t reading all of the books I want them to read. Frustration that I haven’t motivated all of them to read their minimum two hours per week, and that some of them are reading books that might not be at grade level.

But when I start thinking about my students more as individuals, instead of the receivers of a prescribed curriculum, and remember that they are individual kids with fun personalities and individual learning styles, I’m encouraged rather than frustrated.

It’s because of the workshop model. It really is working. 

It just works slower on some days than others.

And that’s okay.

Developing the climate to be a culture of reading is hard and takes time, and I am giving myself permission to let it happen. To push it and encourage it. It’s not going to happen overnight.

And it’s not about me.

It’s about the students who are reading more than they did last year.

It’s about the students who didn’t think they liked to read, and are warming up to reading, slowly, in small bursts and then maybe having long lulls without a book they love. But they are making forward progress.

It’s about the girl who can’t wait to talk about the newest issue in The Kite Runner, and tells me that she can’t imagine that the book can get any more intense because “everything possible is happened already!” and she’s only 200 pages in. Continue reading “On Climate Change and Hard Days of Teaching…”

New Genre, New Learning

I have a student who is a reluctant conferrer. You’ve probably got one, too.

This student is a reader. A big reader. Like the kind of reader who reads 50+ books in a semester.

But up until this week, this student has been reluctant to talk about them, at least to me.

I think it’s my fault.

I’ve been expecting my student to meet me where I am.

One of the ways I thought I was a 21st century teacher was that I ask my students to respond to literature on Blogger instead of in a notebook.  But how can responding on Blogger be a better learning experience than in Google Docs or in regular reader’s notebooks? (I’ll think on that and try to up my game… more later. There must be an answer.) There’s more to being a 21st century teacher than using technology.

 

Let me get back to those 50+ books. I’ve never seen this student with an actual paper bound book in hand; it’s always the Kindle.

As a new-to-workshop teacher, I didn’t realize that the Kindle was one obstacle between me and a successful conference with a student. I guess it’s because it’s not intuitive to me — it’s easy to flip through pages in a book, but it feels intrusive to start swiping through someone’s device.

I’ll try to push through that now that I’m more aware of it. It might bring me closer to being a 21st century teacher.

Last week, I sat down next to this reluctant interactor and started asking some questions. Again.

This time, my student shared a little more than normal.

This student talked about litRPG.

What is that? I asked. Continue reading “New Genre, New Learning”

Using Conroy’s My Reading Life as Mentor Text

 

At the end of first semester, I asked students to write about how their reading lives had changed. We’d been doing workshop for a few months, I’d seen some growth and some good habits forming in many of them, and I really wanted them to recognize that they were better readers than they had been at the beginning of the school year.

I asked them to reflect on their reading lives, using an excerpt from Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life as mentor text. (I think this is one of the best mentor texts out there, so we have ordered enough copies for each teacher in our department as well as several for our classroom libraries. My colleagues are probably sick and tired of hearing about this book, but I feel strongly about it. It’s a great read and an amazing mentor text, all the way through.)

I gave the students this short excerpt from chapter one: Continue reading “Using Conroy’s My Reading Life as Mentor Text”