Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Biggest Secret as a Teacher

"Lean in closely," I'd say. My eyes would shift to my peripheral vision on each side to check for eavesdroppers and then I'd whisper, "I'm not a reader."

I hated that I didn't read. I could handle 86-page Judy Blume books, but nothing else could hold my attention. If it wasn't a magazine article, it was too long. I wanted to read the John Grisham novels, but I'd instead have my husband read them and then fill me in afterwards. I figured that I'd watch the movie, so I wasn't missing out on anything. I never understood it when people said that the book was MUCH better than the movie. How could that be? For a person in her 30s with a Master's degree, one would expect more.

When I assigned reading to my students, I'd only give them a few pages, as at their age that's all I could handle successfully. When I was a student, if my teacher assigned an entire chapter to my class, I'd totally skip it. Who knows how much of  U.S. history I still do not know; how embarrassing.

One of my beloved friends and former colleagues, Jennifer Malphy (@jmalphy), inspired me by piquing my curiosity about so many books. She is so gifted with regard to finding and keeping up-to-date on young adult novels and getting middle schoolers to start reading and keep reading. So goes the theory, "You are what you teach," I was essentially a middle school girl who wanted to read but wasn't an avid reader and didn't know what to choose or where to begin.  She, being as interested in technology as I am, explored Nooks with me. She for the school library, and I for personal use. I decided while being a self-proclaimed "gadget girl," purchasing an eReader might be the answer to my problem. Jen had been researching about the successful use of them in school libraries.

After I purchased a Nook for myself, I also bought them for my own children, who already liked to read. I implemented them into my Science and Social Studies classes instead of using textbooks. I brought my family's Nooks to school, as well as my iPad and iPod touch with the Nook app. I was also fortunate to have some to borrow from the library, as Jen had purchased eReaders by then. It was an amazing transformation I saw in my classroom. Students who were reluctant readers would read and even volunteer to read aloud. Students would put their heads together with ANY other student and happily share a device, as I didn't have enough to be 1:1. Everyone in my classroom was engaged in reading! I was so happy with the result and I've since shared this with other teachers, encouraging them to use eRaeders in their classrooms.

I am happy to say that I've now read more in the last five years than in all my years before that put together. I've burrowed in and lost hours of time with my nose "in a Nook." The first movie I saw after reading the book was "Eat, Pray, Love." And I finally get to say, "The book WAS better than the movie."


  1. Jena
    Thank you for sharing. Being open and transparent and be willing to admit we are not perfect helps us become better

  2. It didn't let me finish my comment

  3. I am so happy for you. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and it has always been my escape. I struggle with struggling readers because I just don't get it. I appreciate your perspective. I am opposite with the medium too. I LOVE the smell of books, the feel of a smooth book spine, and the weight of an entire story upon my wrist. So, maybe I will be open to a new adventure and try to get on board the digital train. Maybe I'll even check out some of those great book movies I've always shunned :)