15 Mar Slice of Life: It’s Always Been All About the Books! #SOL17
“Here is the classroom library. It will be really important for you to read these books before school begins.”
I glance in the direction she is pointing and see a corner of the room filled with children’s books. There had to be at least 40 baskets of books and three other displays filled with books. I walk over to get a closer look.
She continues, “The books are organized by author, genre, series, topic and interest. You don’t have to read every book in a series, but it helps if you have read the first one.”
I am beginning to think she is seriously thinking I am going to read all of these books in the next four days. Does she realize how much work I have to do for my graduate program? There are hundreds of books. Why do I need to read them?
“We will have OTTER – Our Time to Enjoy Reading – every day. Kids will choose books and we will confer with them in small groups and one-on-one. You need to know the books to help them find books,” she explains. “ It’s all about books in this classroom. Every child is a reader and it is our job to find the books that will make them believe it.”
Did I mention this was one of the first inclusion classrooms in Massachusetts? Did I mention I was not planning to be a teacher? Did I mention my main responsibility was to be an aide for a student with Down’s Syndrome? Did I mention I literally just showed up for my first meeting about my graduate teaching assistant position? Did I mention that I remember it like it was yesterday?
In those first ten minutes Tammy taught me everything I was ever going to need to be a teacher. Love of reading is essential. Believing in every child is required. Engaging students in learning is everything. Books are the key to making it all happen.
Tammy, it’s been twenty-three years and we still spend our days thinking about reading, writing, engaging kids, listening, learning, and reflecting. I love that we are going back to our roots with the focus of our next book. You introduced me to what a classroom library should be – the heart and soul of a learning community. Students browsing, talking, sharing, choosing and connecting with books. Our library was the hub of the classroom – never empty and rarely quiet. It was where kids and teachers went when they needed to connect.
This photo is one of my favorites. Take a close look Tammy …. do you see it? Right there in the Dr. Seuss Basket. Hop on Pop. I still have the copy of that book on my desk and Madeline’s response to that book.
All the data said she would never learn to read, but in your classroom every child was a reader. Specialists told us that we should focus on her speech and life skills, but in your classroom every child was a reader. They told us she would not understand what we were teaching her, but in your classroom every child was a reader.
Tammy you taught me how to move beyond the numbers and see, truly see, the reader. You showed me how to connect with the reader through books. You were right. Madeline did learn to read and it was all because of a book – Hop on Pop. One book, one reader and one magical connection that opened the door to literacy – a door that may have otherwise remained unopened.
Thank you for making me read all those books, it has made all the difference in my relationships with readers.
Happy Birthday Tammy!