Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Blog: Coming Full Circle

One of the best parts of being part of the blogging and twitter community are the conversations that I have had after doing a presentation in addition to the friendships that I have made.  My colleague, Melanie, teaches 5th grade in my district and has her own blog: Organized Inspirations. After our conversation at the Dublin Lit Conference, I asked her if she would be interested in writing a guest post.  Luckily for me she took me up on my offer.  Thanks Melanie for sharing your thinking! 

I had the privilege of attending the Dublin Literacy Conference a couple of months ago. I was excited to attend due to the many great authors presenting this year. As I sat in each session, I took many notes, feeling energized and grateful to be able to hear such great presenters talk of subjects about which they (and I) am so passionate: Reading and Writing.

As I sat in the Keynote session audience at the start of the day, presented by Donalyn Miller (the wonderful author of The Book Whisperer), I thought about myself as a reading teacher. I became quiet and pensive during her talk. I found myself reflecting, planning, and evaluating my teaching life. Some questions surfaced:

*What am I doing on a daily basis to help kids love to read?
*What behaviors do I need to change in order to guide students to increase their desire to read and write for a variety of purposes?
*What messages do I send every day to my students in talking about books, sharing about life experiences, and coaching them in their own reading and writing lives? Do I even do that enough?

My priority and vision for reading and writing workshop became a bit more clear that day. I will continue to function in much the same way. I will continue to apply workshop elements within daily lessons. But the power to support children in loving to read and write even more lies in a simple principle:  Make every day about promoting the love of literature, and in honoring and supporting growth in as many ways as possible.

Being able to honor reading meaningfully in many different ways is imperative for kids. We cannot forget this critical piece to the Reading workshop. Allowing kids to have lots of chances to be thoughtful about reading and about books is so key toward helping them gain momentum in learning about themselves as readers.

When we nurture this quality in our students, we are effectively putting the responsibility of "meaning making" back on the child, using the strategies and skills we have taught them along the way.

Some days, we don't know the true impact of our work with students. But on days when my kids:

exclaim when it's time to read,
groan when it's time to stop,
beg for more reading time,
share their love of books,
become excited to recommend titles,
and embrace being a total "book nerd,"

Then I know that even in the midst of all of the changes in education today, kids are still getting the right message. On these days, I can hardly contain my joy.

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