As an educator, whether I am working with students that are 5 years old or 50 years old I have learned that new learning is new learning. The reaction is always the same. There is frustration and sometimes choice words and then there is the breakthrough. When teaching new material is your profession you also learn something yourself about how to be a trustworthy facilitator. Which is why I have the personal mantra, “I will never ask you to do anything that I am not willing to do or have already done.” I don’t believe in busy work for students. It is a waste of time and creative energy for everyone.
I believe that books find people. If someone doesn’t like to read they just haven’t found the right book. It thrills me when I can find that book for someone. My dream list of jobs surrounding books is vast. One of these dream jobs is Bibliotherapist. Powerful words to someone are, “I saw this book and thought of you.”
When I was a TAP Master Teacher it was my responsibility to conduct weekly professional development for my teachers based on school and teacher needs. One of the goals was always increasing reading skills of our students. One of the best ways to get students to read is to have great books available and lots of them. There is an element of sharing in this reading life I have found that carries an enthusiasm which is contagious. A teacher needs to share their own reading life with their students to show them it is important . Also providing time to read for students and teaching them to make their own choices in reading materials.
During my weekly presentations, I started to include a slide of what I was reading that week. I wanted my teachers to share their reading life with their students so of course I needed to do the same. I often would be reading a fiction, a non-fiction, and an education book. Ishared why I was reading those books, where I had heard of them, and why I thought they would make me a better learner. There was accountability on my part to get the reading done for the week because I knew that slide was coming the following Thursday! These books opened up conversations with my teachers in a professional capacity and on a more personal level. People started to recommend titles to me based on what they saw me reading.
The students would come to my office and request books all the time. I had more books than the whole school. The charter school I was working for had built the program without a library. If you want kids to read they need books. As Kelly Gallagher says, (I am paraphrasing here) teaching kids to read with no books is like teaching kids to swim without a pool. I was happy to lend them all books and talk about what books they would like.
I almost always have a book with me, usually more than one. If you ask me about it, and sometimes without prompting, I will talk to you about it. If I see you reading a book that I loved I will talk to you about it too. You have been warned.
I pay attention to what other people are reading. In my job now I will often walk through the cafeteria and see what books the students are reading. If I have read it I will ask a question. If it looks interesting I will ask a question about whether they enjoy it and why. Even if I am not talking to all the students at that lunch table they are all listening to the conversation. I have one 7th grader that is my “book buddy” at the moment. She recommends books to me and I recommend them back. We talk about books all the time. It is our book club of 2 at the moment!
I post what I am reading on my office door. This is much the same idea of the slide in the presentation. Just when I think no one notices I will get a question or a comment.
I talk about books ALL THE TIME. If I heard a great book podcast I will share with others around me. I want to stay informed about what is good and interesting because you just never know when you need a good book.
I have many books displayed as well. You cannot help but notice them as they overrun my office.
Reading enriches and inspires me to think differently about the world. I hope that my enthusiasm will help someone else find something extraordinary they will love too. The extra bonus is I might get a recommendation out of it too!