Archive | October, 2013

It’s All About Perspective

1 Oct

Last week, I got to hang out with some of my closest teacher/nerdy friends in Ann Arbor to go see Ellen Hopkins.  (An amazing experience!  Her books are now flying off my shelves!)  With our usual catching up, we talked about teaching.  I stated how much I really am enjoying my classes this year, yet I just can’t seem to “crack them.”  I explained, much like I did in my last entry, how I just can’t seem to get students to read.  They aren’t reading outside of class and so many students are still stating they hate to read.

Sarah put it a little bit into perspective for me.  She asked me if they aren’t reading at all – like even in class during SSR.  That gave me pause.  Well yes, they are reading in class during SSR.  Students are getting through at least some pages each week when it is time for Friday Check-in.  Sarah, Beth, and Lindsay pointed out that really, that’s a great thing because yes, they are reading.  And maybe once they do more reading in class, they will start to read more outside of class.  I appreciated this change in perspective.

Then, I started thinking about some of the victories I have had so far this year:

  • The student who could not wait to come up to me and tell me she had finished her first book of the year.  That students is now reading another book by Maya Angelou.  
  • The boys how have been sharing Sold by Patricia McCormick.  More students want to read it now.
  • The student who devoured Send by Patty Blount and told me she was so sad it was going to end.  She is demanding more books by Blount.
  • The boy who wrote his least favorite part of the book he is reading is having to stop reading and fill out his log in ELA Lab.
  • The students adding more and more books to their To-Read lists each time we book talk.
  • The girl who finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and is now reading Looking for Alaska.
  • Watching a few students carry their books with them when we break for B lunch.
  • The countless number of times I have had to ask a student to stop reading – and tell them it breaks a little piece of my heart every time I have to say it.
  • The students who keep asking, “So are you going to get the third Divergent book?  Can I read it first?”

I also had an opportunity to change my perspective this week as well.  After reading Katherine Sokolowski’s post about reflection, I created a September Reflection for students to complete on Monday.  This was quite eye-opening.  Students, as always, were brutally honest.  (One student hopes I will notice how boring class is while a couple others are asking me to get rid of Article of the Week.)  The questions and responses have opened my eyes to some great things going on in our classroom.

I asked students how much they have been reading and if it was more or less than they have read before.  A few students admitted they were not reading much and may even be reading less than they have in the past (I did not specify last year or any particular time in the past.  I may change that in the future.)  However, some responses blew me away:

  • I read when we read in class.  More.  I didn’t used to read at all.
  • I haven’t been reading much but it is more than what I used to read.  I never used to read at all in the past.
  • I read every day for at least 50 minutes, not counting class time.  I think I am reading more than I have in the past.
  • I am reading more than last year.  Last year, I never picked up a book on my own time.
  • I really haven’t been reading like I should.  I am reading less than I have in the past.  I used to read and finish two books in one day.

After some other general questions about their work and our project, I asked students what they wanted me to do in October.  Here are some ways students completed the phrase “For October, I wish Mrs. Crawford would…”

  • give help when it is needed.
  • give us more time with reading.
  • help me become a better writer.
  • continue to push the class so we can reach that goal of becoming better writers.

Finally, I asked students to complete the prompt  “For October, I wish Mrs. Crawford would notice…”  Students had a lot to tell me:

  • that I’m actually trying to pass.
  • some people don’t have time for AoW at home or in other classes.
  • that I have been reading a lot more.
  • how bad of a reader I am.  Well, I think I am.
  • that even if my work is late, I will turn it in.
  • that I don’t read.  I’m all for work but books aren’t for me.
  • that some of us don’t like to speak in front of class.
  • that I need more practice on my writing skills.
  • that I read.
  • if I’m doing better in class or if I need to work on stuff.
  • she goes through things too fast and kinda needs to slow down.
  • myself working hard.
  • me reading more!

This gave me a lot to think about.  First, I am making strides with students and we have plenty of victories to celebrate.  I also have a lot to talk about with students when I meet with them to confer.  I also gained that there are different things I can work on as a teacher to help my students the best that I can.

It is important we keep perspective on things as the year goes on.  I am going to celebrate those victories and reach out to those students who may need me to do more and notice more.