Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rocking Chair Literacy

Slice of Life Challenge #1... just like life and running, I am a tad bit behind!                                  3.3.13

I am a first year literacy coach, grades 3-6.  This year has been a very revealing and reflective year for me.  Beginning my 19th year of teaching,  when my principal called and asked if I would be interested, I thought about this for about five minutes... then called her back and a agreed to take this on!

Having always been a fifth/sixth grade language arts teacher, I was a little uncomfortable, no~ PETRIFIED to see those third graders coming to my literacy library!  I have my master's degree in reading, but my focus was on adolescent literacy, not diagnostic.  Ask any of my former students, I am PASSIONATE about reading and writing & writing and reading!  I love the challenges that were put forth every day by my previous students: find me a book I will love, I have read most books in the library , how do I make my writing better, etc.  Students who challenge me, cause me to think deeper; I hope I have done the same with them over the years.  

However, I truly don't get why some students struggle with reading!  Now, don't take this the wrong way, please!  I do know there are children who do have learning/reading struggles.  I realize there are holes to be filled.  In a society where books are available through many sources, why is it that children don't read?  Mind-boggling!  

My school is what I would call a fairly affluent school.  For the most part,  the small groups of students I serve on a daily basis are non-readers.  It is really not that they can't read; they just haven't practiced.  I find this heart-breaking!  Why haven't they been turned on to reading?  Who is responsible for this?  Teachers?  The child's first teacher~Parents?  Siblings?  Grand-parents?  Babysitters?  Day Care?  Preschool?  All of the above, beginning with the mom!  

While she is carrying the babe in her womb, why not sit in the comfort of a rocking chair and read to that sweet baby!  The vibrations of the voice have to reach the child... the rhythm of the language... the few minutes alone, away from the hectic daily life... a little joy to end each day... a poem, a chapter of your favorite book, a devotional, a favorite kid's book, whatever is shared with the precious life within is a great way to introduce the love of the written word with this new life the mom is carrying.

I have learned to love those third graders; I knew I would.  We read and share daily celebrating the magic of the written word. We listen to the rhythm of verse.  We laugh and smile, and celebrate small successes daily.  We hug and high five. We struggle and learn~together!  Reading is a community process and activity.  I have come to understand and believe the reading community I am building with my students is much like the initial "rocking chair literacy" introduction these children might have missed.  It brings me pure joy to share this with them! 

I guess time will tell if my hypothesis is correct... or if it really matters.  What  matters is that I can influence these children while I have them... test scores will be tangible evidence that will make the district sing or shout.  What they take from me about my passion for the written word and what leave with me about my lessons from life will be the greatest measure of success for us both.  


  1. Wish every mother-to-be could read your post. Those early days are so, so, so important! So many big lessons being learned. Glad you are learning to enjoy the third graders! Every grade has its own special gifts, I think!

  2. I love third grade! They are old enough to read and write and they still love their teacher. I taught third grade for 8 years before I moved to all elementary levels in gifted. I had readers and non-readers, but like you taught with a passion for literacy. I'm sure you will have a lifelong influence on these students. I hope you will continue to write Slice of Life stories.