Be a Dreamer

I have great kids in my classroom.  All of them are pretty cool, even the ones who incite facepalming from me.  There are the go-getters and the funny ones and the slow-to-learn, but they’re all pretty great.  I have a few that give me the most problems – the old 80-20 rule so to speak.

Well, I’ve been thinking about some research I read long ago (I don’t remember anything about except this) that talked about kids needing to have a future in their heads.  And I thought, well, I’ll ask some kids what they want to be when they grow up.  I said to the kids, I don’t need a multi-year plan and a final decision, I just asked what they thought would be a fun job.

Man, that is an eye-opening experience.

The kids who are focused and always have work in on time, or at least apologize for it being late, the ones who are motivated to do an extra word stud drawer – they have answers to this question.  Some of them have picked realistically, like architect or athletic trainer.  Some are dreaming big, like video game designer or football star.  But the kids who often are late with projects and don’t seem to care – they have no idea.

It’s too far away, they think, what’s the point in thinking about it?  And that’s pretty eye-opening.  These are the kids who are shocked when you tell them about conditions in other countries, or who have never seen pictures of Mount Rushmore, or haven’t heard about squid ink.

Kids need to dream and they need to experience.  It’s eye-opening to see the kids who regularly visit libraries, museums, or just go on vacations and the kids who sit at home and do nothing.

Reading

I took a big risk with my reading instruction this year, basically ripping apart what I’d been doing before and doing something completely different.  And it has been working!  My kids are enjoying reading (most of them) way more than last year.  The secret is actual books they like.

When I was job searching, I would often bring up in interviews that I believed reading instruction was best served with a lot of reading and a lot of writing.  Fit those two things into every other subject, and have the kids read a lot and it would all work out.  Well, one kind principal told me after not employing me that that was something that put the other candidate ahead of me.  See, there’s so much more to it than that!

Well, after five years of teaching, going through PD, learning new techniques, trying it different ways I’ve reached the conclusion that the best reading instruction boils down to a lot of reading and a lot of writing.

Like, that’s really all it is.

Reading is like running.  The best way to get better at running is to run.  Yeah, there’s some issues with form and pacing,but the vast majority of people can run to get better at it.  It’s what I’ve seen.  The kids who love reading are better at it, the ones who aren’t need to find the love.

I love reading, so there is that.

(and, yes, there is merit to intentional instruction in  the components in reading, but if the worst thing you do is have your students read a lot and write a lot, you’re going to be okay – there’s plenty more you can do, I just enjoy being glib)