Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finding Time for What is Important

Many people know that one of my favorite quotes of all time goes like this:

"People find time for what is important to them, no matter how busy they are."
~Carole Lewis 

This quote transcends so many areas of life, and especially so in teaching.

Today, a few former students came to visit me after school.  We were talking about our reading routines from last year, and one of the girls said, "If we just could take out all of the little routines in our daily class, we would have more time for reading." They were reflecting about how little independent reading time they had in class, and they were actively constructing different possible solutions as to what areas of their teacher's instructional class period they could change in order to gain more reading time.  I just sat, blinking hard, because I so agreed with every word they said.  It just makes sense.

It got me thinking, too.  So, what routines or procedures are we performing with our kids in class that we can simplify or eliminate in order to provide kids with more time to read?

Donalyn Miller, in The Book Whisperer, references some similar experiences when former students come back to visit and reflect on the world of reading.  She mentions the idea that while she doesn't want to become unprofessional and discuss aspects of other teachers' reading practices, it is hard not to inwardly cringe.

I think my former students have simply learned the best way to continue to grow as readers:
Yes, it is a sacrifice in some ways to carve out time for practices such as independent reading and read aloud, but these are two things that should be at the forefront of our instruction, not the first things we cut out when we are pressed for time!

I was both thrilled and disappointed when I talked with my former students this afternoon.  I was so happy to see them yearning to read; I could see they really were wanting to find some possible solutions for change.  Though I didn't feel it was my place to say anything (out of respect for colleagues), this admission on their part was proof positive that they "get it." They really understand what reading is all about.  This is enough to put a smile on my face because I realize the power of reading workshop became very real for them in past experiences through the years.  But the other part of me is disappointed, because there isn't a whole lot I can do, except encourage them to read that much more at home, even in the midst of their busy schedules.  I sure hope they do so, no matter how busy they are.

Perhaps the next time I see them, I will share the above quote with them, and hope it resonates with them, as it has with me.

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