A rested mind, clean apartment, and a face full of freckles are what I have to show for my first official week of summer.
This first week has been great. This is really my first true summer as a teacher where I don’t have to worry about moving or applying for jobs. I am working part time in retail, but have left the summer pretty open. I know, I know, everyone dislikes teachers in the summer. I understand but I work hard all year, so I’m going to enjoy this gift of summer I’ve been given.
After a week’s rest without thinking about school at all, I was ready to ease my way back into it. (See it’s true, teachers really can’t stay away from school and work during the summer.) I decided to reread some of the books I kept from college classes. I started with Comprehension from the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski. Perhaps I am a dork, but I was getting so into this book and it got me thinking about my kiddos past, present, and future.
In the first two chapter Sharon Taberski wrote a lot about her philosophy behind literacy instruction and how to be most effective. There were two major themes. First, reading is not an isolated skills, nor can it be broken down into isolated parts, thus it should be taught this way. Second, less is more. These children (K-3) are truly babies in the grand scheme of things and we need to respect and cherish where they are at in their lives.
Some stand out quotes…
-We need to start where the children are if we have any hope of moving them farther along.
-The feeling of failure is unfortunate because it is ultimately our successes, not our failure that inspire each of us to do more and be better – whether it’s teaching or learning This is especially true for our younger, most impressionable students.
-Children need us teachers on so many levels. Let’s not forget to be warm and funny and model our own enthusiasm for reading, writing, and thinking. Sure, we can be rigorous, but that doesn’t mean rigorous in our service to external test scores. It means rigorous in our service to children, to using our expertise to know where each of them is as a reader, a writer, and a thinker and where to take them next.
Teachers know that we are just force feeding as much as we can into these little bodies. I am thinking of myself here. I read this book in college and I liked it enough to keep but I doubt it went far beyond that. Now that I’ve had a chance to relax, digest the year, and be on my own terms, I am captivated by the book. A part is because now I have context to apply it to. I’ve had 50 students sitting in front of me. Children need this too. They need time to read for enjoyment or in their down time because they want to, not because they have to. Children also need time to take all of the independent skills we teach them and apply them on their own terms, in books of their own choosing. Perhaps then they too could be captivated and get lost in the pages of a book.
Over this summer and the upcoming years, I am going to continue to do my research on the true, best practices in education. I will follow the blogs and posts of inspiring, change-making teachers. I will earn my Master’s Degree. Most importantly, I will continue to put kindling on the fire that is burning. I am going into my third (third?!?!?) year of teaching and have much to learn. I also have boxes to operate within, lines I cannot yet cross. However it is so important to keep questioning and not just blindly following the crowd. Then one day, ONE DAY, I will work to be part of the solution and this low fire can truly burn and spread.
A closing quote from Sharon Taberski…
-At some point we’re going to have to take a stand and truly stand up for children. We know that many of the things we’re being asked to do in the name of “raising the scores” is neither in our children’s best interests nor good for them. Therefore, we must acquire knowledge of effective and sensible teaching practices and make our voices heart.