I had every intention of rereading one and reading two new-to-me professional texts during July. And while the month isn’t yet over, I’m pretty sure I won’t get to any of them. In fact, I don’t want to read them. Yet. I’ve been thinking a lot about the opportunities of a job that includes over a month off each summer and I don’t want to squander them. The greatest is the chance to step away not just physically but mentally and recharge. Stepping away is challenging for anyone who finds their work satisfying, and I do not do it perfectly. But I realize this is precious time and I can spend it on things I find harder to fit in during the school year. Day trips, long walks, spontaneous visits with friends, naps, recipe testing, knitting, and more. Yes, I still check emails almost daily and read education-focused articles and blog posts linked on Twitter. And I started a Google doc to record preliminary ideas for the first few weeks of fourth grade reading group. And my Amazon cart is slowly filling with titles I’ve discovered and want to add to my classroom. But I’m not reading those three professional books. Yet.
Instead, I’m reading lots and lots of fiction. Bestsellers, beach reads, page turners. Nothing too highbrow. This morning I started my fifth just because book. Some days I’ve plunked myself down on the glider on the porch or the chair on the front lawn and read for hours. In the afternoon. And I don’t/won’t feel even the tiniest bit guilty about that.
Even so, as I read what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, how I want, I can’t help but think more about the power of choice for young readers and wonder how I can offer the children in my class more of what I’m experiencing right now. Can our time together each day be organized so that they can choose to read independently when it suits them? I’ve always determined the order of events during class. But maybe that should change. Is there a way for us to establish routines so that they can determine the time they spend reading on their own? What would a reluctant reader do with that choice? Could they choose to make a shared text or the current read aloud their independent book as well? Can we think about nightly reading requirements differently so that readers can choose not just what but when, where, and for how long they read?
And I’m noticing the things I do as a reader. When I skim. Why I skim. When and why I reread. I reread the first chapter of one book three times as I progressed through the story because there was something I kept wanting to check. What I like and don’t in the books I read. What confuses me. How can I use what I observe in my own reading habits to sharpen my insights and observations about the readers I teach? How can I use what I notice about my reading strengths and struggles to support young readers more effectively? How can I use my reading experience to connect in authentic ways with students?
Even though I’ve put those professional books aside this month, I’m thinking about my teaching practice, my future students, and how I can do better by, for, and with them in the coming school year. Once a teacher, always a teacher. Now back to that book.