I start each day reading to my sixth graders the minute they walk in the door. This year, we've read STARFISH, EFREN DIVIDED, WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED, (and a couple of others that I'm not remembering at the end of a long day) and right now, FRONT DESK, which they are absolutely loving. O, who is one of my favorite kids, and makes me laugh every single day, but is never ever ever ever quiet, not even for a second, sits absolutely still, enraptured, and begs me to read just one more chapter every day. And then I look to the back of the room, and see M. He is never quiet either, except during read aloud, and when I look at his face, I see a five-year-old, longing to be loved, and wonder if anyone has ever read to him before.
Two hours later, I read to my second class. And J, who has an IEP a mile long listens intently, and has crazy interesting insights and makes connections I never would have thought of, sits in the front row. And my crazy rowdy group of boys are calm- no one makes random monkey noises, or builds a skateboard jump out of the pencil box, or even asks to go to the bathroom.
I end my day in an early childhood classroom. A couple of weeks ago, I just happened to be in that classroom at the end of the day. The para leaves about 15 minutes before the day and the teacher, who is absolutely wonderful, was looking a little harried. I asked how I could help and she said, "Could you just read to them for about ten minutes?" Read to kids? I'm on it! I've read to them the last 15 minutes of the day every day since. I absolutely love it. I have to confess, we're in a tiny bit of a rut, where they insist on one book, BEAR AND CHICKEN by Jannie Ho, every single day, and we always have to talk about whether Bear actually will eat chicken (he hasn't in the last 15 days, in case you are wondering), but it's a perfect way to end the day.
My days at school are a read aloud sandwich.
I often think back to my first year of teaching and wish with all my heart I would have spent most of my days reading aloud to that special group of students. We did read a lot, but even more would have been better. Your description of your kids as you read to them brought back that class's eyes, their smiles, and their heads resting on my shins or each other, eating up every word. Thanks!
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