Our time with children is long but it is also fleeting.
The 8-year-olds I teach will quickly forget the lessons on spelling and units I plan. They’ll build up new knowledge and skills as they make their way through the school system and out into the world.
If I work hard, in twenty or thirty years time I might have one small understanding that sticks with a child into adulthood.
When I think about that one lesson that I really want to stick with the students, it won’t be the latest app or knowledge of writing features.
I want them to be readers.
Being a reader is different from reading.
Teachers can teach children phonics, comprehension strategies, and text features. We can only ever inspire children to be readers.
Readers enjoy meandering through bookshops. They’ll download books on kindle. Readers share their love of reading with others – a conversation will spark the need to share an article or book for the other person will read. Each time a child opens a book they open a window into the world as it is, was, or could be.
Readers are learners.
Some children come to my class as readers.
It is my mission to that they leave the class as better readers.
Some children enter the class as dormant readers – they know how to read, but do not gain pleasure from reading.
It is my mission that the children leave the class seeing themselves as a reader.
Assessing these lessons takes time and the data can’t be found on standardised assessments and observations.
It’s bumping into an ex-student at the train station buried in City of Bones when she loudly announced on the first day of school she ‘hated’ reading.
It’s seeing a teenager carrying Hatchet, a book you read to his class as a ten-year-old, and sharing the memory of the conversations with him as he proudly shows you the book.
It’s listening to a mother who is relatively new to the school mention how her son is starting to take an interest in books.
I shrug it off as the influence of his book-loving friend. Only the titles she mentioned were ones that we had read in class before the student arrived.
The true power of teaching children to be readers is that they then inspire others to be readers.