Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 15 2013

On reading.

This morning I had tromped completely across my backyard before I noticed my boots had just the tiniest film on them, and that my old principal’s car was covered in frost. I was walking from my yard to the Administration Building, which is the house next door. The two of us have started a weekly routine of coffee and conversation, usually casual things but sometimes including special ed, testing, technology, or hiring in the district. I find solace in our gentle talks and though I drag my feet to get there at 6:50am once a week, I’m always so happy to sit with her in the office.

This afternoon I finally, in my fourth year, did what most students do in their first. I held reading conferences with every one of my homeroom students, and with half of my second block class. My brain and heart are on fire for reading… and so are theirs.

When we had the chance to personally sit down and talk about the books they love and hate, why they do or don’t take AR tests, and what they want their reading level to be at by the end of the year, I had some beautiful conversations. One of my favorites was with my student who is as interested in race relationships as I am. She just read a book about a black funeral director in the early 1900s who always says “color me dark” when she gets comments about passing for white. I let her borrow the copy of The Lions of Little Rock I’ve been hoarding on my desk since the beginning of the year. After 5 pages I could tell she’ll love it as much as I did.

One of my biggest behavior problems in the beginning of the year, a boy who takes medication every morning and is obsessed with hunting and football, is now deeply obsessed with reading. He just finished a non-fiction book about white-tailed deer two levels above what he tested at, and did awesome on his comprehension quiz. When he finishes his math work next door in the afternoons, he now asks to sit in the hallway to read as a reward.

Literally witnessing a child transforming from hating reading to loving it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced, ever. The only thing that trumps is watching a student transform from hating writing to loving it. Wink wink.

I tried really hard not to drink this Dr. Pepper with my dinner at 8 tonight. I only had half, then stuck it in the fridge. The problem is that when I started finishing my lesson plans for Act 2 of The Miracle Worker, which my students are starting tomorrow, I got it back out. And finished it. At 10:45. Now I’m itching with the energy I used to have in the middle of the night… I haven’t seen it in a while because me, Caroline Queen of Not Sleeping, have started going to bed as close to 10 as possible every night, sometimes even before I see it!

My life is changing, it’s leveling out. Priorities are dipping. I somehow failed one of my grad school midterms and started to prioritize human relationships just the slightest bit more. I don’t feel bad about it. I hate the grade, don’t get me wrong, but I will work to make up for it and pass the class. In the meantime, I am loving everyone I can as much as I can as often as humanly possible. Loss blindsides us all, and I don’t want anyone to ever walk away from me unaware of my love. Ever.

I love reading The Miracle Worker with my students, and they love it just as much. Every line is read aloud and acted by my students. It takes pretty much forever, but it is so gratifying to watch.


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