This past week marked the last week of our first quarter. My students and I took this opportunity to reflect on our growth this year. It helps me see what worked and where I need to make adjustments in my instruction. For example, my students made goals for their reading during this quarter but as I suspected, they weren't very connected to their goals. This is where I need to change my focus for second quarter. I framed the discussion like this:
Think of yourself as a reader in September. How did you feel about reading? How much did you read? What were you reading? And now think about yourself as a reader now. What's changed? Why has it changed?
During our discussions, the first thing that came up in all of my classes was choice! All of my students agreed that they read more because they get to pick what they want to read. Some students said they liked reading before, but they never got time to read in class. The responses that set my heart aflutter:
One of my boys told me, "Last year I had a teacher who really loved science. You really love reading. You love books. You have lots of books."
I asked this class, "Is it important that your reading teacher likes to read?" They looked at me like I'd just asked them the silliest question.
Nodding their heads, they all said, "Well, yeah!" And I'm that teacher for them. I'm the one who loves books and knows books. They recognize that and it matters!
We were talking about how we find good books and they talked about following an author or a series or even a genre...some students talked about books their friends were reading and books that older siblings had read...and some said me. "If I need a book, you always know exactly what I need. I know you'll find something good for me."
My sixth graders continue to surprise me with the depth of their reflections. I am impressed. Here are a few excerpts from student reflections:
"I don’t like it when I am forced to read something because that just completely ruins the whole dynamic of what I think is reading and I hate it when people who do that."
"Reading is relevant to my life because I get pulled into my happy place when I read and it takes all of my stress away so I can relax."
"I like reading if it is the right book!"
"I find the right stuff to read by Ms. Haseltine. She helps me find the perfect books because she recognizes what kind of books I read before that and what I would like. I think Ms. Haseltine is the way to go with book recommendations."
"Sometimes I just have to stop and think about my reading. I also realize when I almost feel like I just woke up because I feel out of where I am and I’m surrounded by words. Also sometimes I don't realize it until I laugh or feel a tear slip out of my eye."
In this day and age of data and testing, the words of my students bring me peace. They have become readers because of how we spend our time in class. Many of them have changed from reporting that, "Reading is ok" to "Please, can we please have five more minutes to read?!?"...and there's no better feeling than that!