Saturday, September 21, 2013

Storm Clouds

Friday at school did not end so positively.  It was a mistake to get caught up going over my students' reading goals in the afternoon.  In theory, each child has a book of their own choosing that is at their reading level.  In theory, each child has determined a goal of when they plan on being finished with the book.  In theory, this book is to be with the child at all times in the classroom so that they can pick up and read a few pages during any free time throughout the day.  In theory, they are also to read 30 minutes a night from this same book and keep a reading log of their thoughts generated from the pages they've read.  My job is to keep track of all of this and spur the class along in their reading.

The reality is that the children who enjoy reading get the hang of our system and soon are zooming along with their reading.  The middling readers are becoming more and more engaged and successful with their reading as they realize that all they have to do to make steady progress is READ.  So they cheerfully settle down and get down to it.  Checking in with these two groups of students is quick and easy and fun.

It's the group of students who are making little or no progress with reading (and this is half the class) who cause me anguish.  There are a variety of reasons that children don't/won't read and all of them need to be effectively dealt with by me.  By "effectively" I mean dealt with in such a way that each child is motivated to read for all the right reasons and has an inner belief that they will be successful.

A Friday afternoon, after an exhausting week, was not the time for this teacher to check in with those students most in need of encouragement.  Because, I'll be the first to admit, I was in no mood to hear from student after student variations of: "I left my book at home."  "I lost my book."  "I finished my last book and have been sitting for two days before starting my next one."  "May I get my book from my backpack?"  "I haven't read my book this week because I started cheerleading."

And so, to my regret, I let my frustrations get the upper hand and the last half hour of school became decidedly negative for a certain segment of my class.  I'm pretty sure that none of them got on the bus with the attitude of, "All righty, then -- I'm going to go home and do some reading this weekend!"  Sigh...

I must change my tack.  There's a method of teaching literature called "Literature Circles" that gets students discussing with each other a common book that they're reading.  I must learn how to do this.  This weekend.  The thing is, if I can be clever and creative enough create a climate where the children enjoy what they are reading, I can then just step back and let them read.  This is my goal.

Yesterday evening a fresh breeze was blowing in and the dark smudges on the horizon were clouds, not smoke (happy day!).  The weather for today forecasts a 50% chance of showers after eleven this morning.  Looks like I'll be on a ladder clearing leaves out of the roof gutters as soon as it gets light.  This is exactly the sort of activity this teacher needs in order to get her equilibrium back after yesterday's stumbles in the classroom.

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