Growing Readers and Writers

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Photo CC by Sunny_mjx

How do we grow readers and writers?

I know that no matter how equipped I am to teach when I finally graduate, my first few years will be full of struggles.  I’ve read the accounts of the beginning years of master teachers and each is full of descriptions of difficulties.  But then, if you try, you learn.  As Donalyn Miller puts it, “I’m still learning how to be a better teacher. I’ve missed a lot of chances to connect my students with reading. I’ve created negative reading experiences in my classroom. I didn’t know what I know now. I learned. I grew. I evolved. I improved. I was a novice teacher once, but I’m not new any more. When you know better, you do better. No excuses.”  Successfully growing readers and writers in my classroom revolves around me.  I have to not only continue to be a reader and a writer and constantly build my reading and writing stamina, I have to also continue to search for ways to help my students.  This week, I stumbled on a piece written by Donalyn Miller (of which allowed me to found the above quote) and realized that so much of what I do should be dependent on what I continue to learn as a reader and writer.  In her http://bookwhisperer.com/2014/09/07/language-arts-and-crafts/ blog post, she makes a strong argument for why teachers need to keep up to date with their teaching practices.  If a teacher “reject[s] evidence-based teaching practices in favor of outdated traditions, it’s a choice” and one that will negatively impact their students.  That’s why I want to continue to read not just books I enjoy when I begin to teach, but books about teaching reading, teaching writing, and teaching in general.  I want to keep up with the new research that surely will be done on how students learn best and what to avoid in a classroom, etc.  I want to attend programs like the NCTE conference and other events that will get me in the minds of excellent teachers.  I want to discuss teaching with my future colleagues and voice my opinion at PLC meetings.  Perhaps most importantly, I have to constantly assess what I am doing in my classroom and what effects it is having on my students.  In order to help my students grow as readers and writers, I have to grow; I have to constantly seek ways to self-improve; I have to always be willing to learn.

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