I have been a teacher for ten years now, and there are a couple of things I am certain of. Students are individuals with souls that need to be nourished and encouraged. If you are a first grade teacher, that means that they will love you no matter how badly you carry a tune or how funny your hair looks on your worst “hair day.” If you give children love, structure, and attention, they will believe in you. This leads me to the second thing that I am certain of as an educator…We don’t always believe in ourselves and we have times when our self confidence might waver. This may happen especially during assessment times. You know you worked hard with each child and sometimes the progress isn’t immediately evident.
This weekend, as I was preparing for an upcoming group presentation that I will be a part of at the 2012 SLATE Conference in the Wisconsin Dells, I had the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite books and authors that shaped me as a beginning teacher. Regie Routman’s “Reading Essentials” was one that both refreshed and strengthened me as I enjoyed the long ago read pages.
As an elementary teacher, teaching reading is a huge responsibility. You want to serve each child well. Several factors hold you accountable for your instructional decisions: parents, district assessments, standardized testing, your principal, and finally yourself. There are many programs out there that promise results. How do you know you are doing what’s best for students?
Regie Routman reminds us of the following “essentials” for any literacy block:
- let your own love and appreciation for reading shine
- make reading fun
- provide time for independent reading (Regie Routman says that struggling readers need “massive amounts of real reading and writing of authentic texts.” (Reading Essentials p. 85) In fact, Allington states that students need 90 minutes of reading time daily in addition to their instructional time.
- let students read together
- provide opportunities for students to respond to their reading in writing
- allow students choice
- after a student makes an error during guided reading, don’t jump right in. Help students develop their abilities to “problem-solve in order to learn to monitor and correct themselves.” (Reading Essentials p. 174)
Knowing that we, as teachers, have the tendency to be so driven that we tend to live, breathe, and think about mainly school, she encourages us to “lead an interesting life.” We need balance. We need to also take time for our family, friends, and interests. Doing this will help us serve our students better.