We’ve been in school for 12 days, (2 weeks and 2 days). I was looking back over my lesson plans trying to see what students have learned and what they still need some help with. They’ve learned a lot, but I realized, I’ve learned a lot to.
I’ve learned that the single most important part of our day continues to be independent reading, with free choice options. One student said “This is reading? I didn’t think this was how reading would be. But I like it.” I imagine he was expecting a basal reader and lots of direct instruction. What did I learn? This is still what’s best for kids, and it will remain the single most important part of the day.
I’ve learned that my readers are non-fiction readers. The classes I’ve had in the past have read my non-fiction, but not like these guys. They are digging through the animal bins as if it’s a toy box. Craving more books on the solar system. Surprising me in every way when they share books after independent reading time, and hearing the stuff they point out. Surprising me in every way with the questions they ask. These are beginning first graders, so most of the words in the readers are too challenging, but imagine the background knowledge they are building just by looking at the pictures and diagrams.
I’ve learned that the best way to build a relationship is with the bridge of a book. I had a boy savoring a snake book day after day. So I combed through my home collection, brought in my snake books, put them on his desk with a note. Our relationship hasn’t been the same- we connected through the books. It was more interesting to talk with him about the books as he was reading them.
What are we working on this week? We’re still building relationships. Soaking in all there is in the classroom library. I’m interviewing students to find out what books they’d like to read next, and going on a hunt to find them. We’re still learning the keys to a good conversation, how to pick just right books (without all of the analogies most use- I model, model, model). We’re still learning about our reading community.
But we already know we all have a place. This classroom is our classroom. These books are our books. We’re still figuring out the details, but I’ve learned that everyone knows they have a place.
I’m assessing readers and reading writing samples and my mind is so excited- oh the possibilities this year has! Oh the potential these young minds have! We all deserve our place.
I can’t wait to see the growth of each reader, and where our conversations and books take us.
After two weeks, I’ve learned I still love what I do. And I can’t wait for another year of it. I think I fit right in to the community.