Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 30 2014

Books and Break

I spent this week in a haze of spring-break-alone-in-Little-Rock-root-canal-mush.

Starting with a moderately psychotic spurt of “going out” in the traditional way us 20-somethings do, trotting through our favorite haunts of Little Rock, meeting musicians and democrats and people with overlapping professional circles. I was screaming out liberty, no longer tied to anything, free from the omnipresent fishbowl effect of small town living. I moved myself into KP’s apartment, even cutting my bangs back to look like her (wink), finally reading and finishing Gone Girl (good, okay. as obsessively excellent as I was lead to believe, no. Doesn’t that always happen?), walking her pup down past the golf course on the River Trail and to the tiny dog park on the other edge of the apartment complex.

I social-media’d myself to death, holed up on the couch or my bed or KP’s bed, listening to either the Forest Sun or Macklemore Pandora stations, depending on time of day. Worked two full days on ATC documents that have been looming, and managed to get back to Dumas for two nights to endure the most pleasant root canal that can possibly be had (primarily due to incredibly nice dentist/hygienist and the GOD GIVEN RM, who nursed me with funny stories, zero judgement for my 7 hour nap, and pure JOY).

Today is the last day of spring break, so I forced myself out of bed somewhere near 7:50am. Chanting to myself, get to the coffee shop by 9. Get there by 9 and immediately start working or you will feel guilty all day. So I arrived by 9:30 and started the easiest and most straight-forward task: grading.

It was a good choice.

As I shuffle through assignments (after an hour I’m done grading a quiz and reading logs, about to move onto the timed essays that they’re so anxious to know their scores on), I find myself giggling at how natural it’s become for us to talk about books and reading. They are genuinely pumped about their independent reading (if nothing else in class), and there’s no longer any kind of hesitation or stigma around it. I am so proud of my nuggets (thnx, RM) and writing tiny notes back on their reading logs is exactly the motivation and joy I need to get ready to see them all again, to conquer the last 7.5 weeks of teaching, and potentially the final 7.5 weeks of my teaching career.

Exhibit A, from a student who entered my class just two weeks ago, who literally refused to read for the first full week:

At first I didn’t like reading at all anymore. Since I’ve been in Ms. Lampinen’s class she introduced me to Captain Underpants books I’ve read three in five days they’re very exciting, funny, and goofy. I love the flip-o-rama pages they’re really good books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid from now on I will read both of these books.

Exhibit B, from the girl who wrote a poem about being behind in and disliking reading all of last year, who currently has the most AR points of any student in the sixth grade:

Dear Ms. Lampinen,

I’m basically done with this book now. I’m on the second to last page of the epilogue and this book is the most epic book ever with all the surprising things that happen. I can visualize this book so well that sometimes I don’t even realize it. This book is worth 20 points and it’s on a 7.0 level and I don’t think I’ll make it to a 10.0 at the end of the year. By the way I spent a lot of time on that book.

Exhibit C, who meandered who way through reading-but-not-reading the entire first half of the year, staring into space instead of turning pages:

Dear Ms. Lampinen,

I was reading the book Buddy. It’s a really good book. That’s probably been the best book I’ve read this year. I want to thank you for being a really nice and good teacher. Love, M

And scattered within these were lots of competitive kids, wanting to beat the number of points another kids, wanting to personal best themselves, trying to finish the entire Bluford Series (thank God for Townsend Press), summarizing books on books on books. Though their are tons of things I’m not proud of this year, one thing I always fall back on to boost myself up is the genuine enthusiasm my kids have for independent reading (even if it is sometimes motivated by points, even if it is sometimes a year or two below their level, even if it is simply eight books in the same series back to back to back I think it’s totally worth it).

My favorite thing is when I’m taking attendance and lunch count in the morning and kids are getting just a little too chatty; I look up to calm them and notice that literally half the class is leaned over on a friend’s desk, turning the pages and talking about a book.

No Responses Yet

    Post a comment