Photo CC by Robert the Nold
I loved middle school. That’s a great part of the reason why I want to become a middle school teacher. There was so much time to read! Each class – whether it be language arts, science, P.E., you name it – began with a 10 minute portion of reading. We didn’t have to read assigned materials. We didn’t even have to read books! We could have magazines, newspapers, whatever your heart desired. I went back to my old middle school for O & P and was sad when I found out that it’s not like that anymore. I suppose not everyone felt the way I did about reading. Thinking about it, if I was expected to let my future English students spend the first 10 minutes of my class solving equations or running laps in the hallway, I wouldn’t be a big fan; my class time is precious and little, so it will be spent doing activities related to language arts, thank you very much. (That would be future sassy teacher me.)
It shows me how marvelous those chunks of reading time were to me. I can still remember only reading The Outsiders at the beginning of my 7th grade science class (I left the book in the room each day). It took a long time (with only 10 minutes a pop, it was bound to) but I read a whole book and remember it! The ONLY thing I can remember from 7th grade science other than that was dissecting a chicken wing. And I don’t even remember what the point of that was. But reading has a point. Reading has a purpose. And thanks to reading Doug Kaufman’s “Living a Literate Life” this week, I know how to help myself show my students this. They may not remember what or why we did anything else, but they will remember the excitement they felt for reading.
But what I have been pondering about in regards to reading worries me. Is it seriously okay if I let my kids read whatever they want all the time? I never have to assign a book? I won’t get fired if we don’t spend at least half our time working on vocabulary? I can read aloud a book to my kids whenever I want and it’s… fine?