Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Watching (by Bet)

I'm in class watching reading. 

Most would think this a boring repass, but I find it enlightening. 

We have been reading for thirty minutes.  Nary a drop in the hat for most, but for these kids it is an eternity.  Most days we read for a scant ten minutes. 

However, they need to progress in their books in order to talk abou their books.  They can't believe they are going to hold a sustained conversation about these books, but by the end of the month they will know what that feels like.

So here I am watching.  You could almost say lurking about, pondering what they are thinking while they read (or would it be "read"?). 

Some hunch themselves up into as tight a ball as they can at a standard public school table and still see the book.  It is almost like they are protecting themselves from the words.

Others are more consumed with the soundtrack of their books than the books themselves, constantly playing with the controls of their Ipods.

Another sits so loosely draped over their chair I think they might slide to a puddle on the floor; the book sits open on their desk.

I watch as two whisper to one another oblivious to their teacher's eyes.

Yet one more is busy making shapes with his hands, desperately trying to get his companion's attention to see if they will laugh.  It is his goal to disrupt the absolute silence we master just this once every period, and then only for moments at a time. 

None of the students seem to reap the same joy that I do when I read.  My husband claims that it is almost comical watching my face as I read.  Everything I am thinking crosses over it unchecked.

Most of my students expressions are blank.  Once a year I might spy a tear in one's eye brought on by the beauty of words, or an out loud laugh inspired by the wit of an author.

Someday I hope that I help them stumble across the book that makes watching them read less of an arduous task and more of an amazing journey.  In the meantime I will continue to answer the never ending question "Do we have to read today?"  with "Of course, when else can you let words wind through your world unfettered?"  (Yes, it confuses them, but what else do I have to do with my day?)

P.S. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is great fun.  I can't wait to finish it so that we can pass it on.


  1. Oh my goodness, I still remember what type of reader you were in school. One hand propped up your head, one hand propped open the book. Legs perfectly bent at the knee under the desk. Papers perfectly stowed in your notebook in your perfectly perfect totebag or backpack.
    I think I tended to pull my legs up in front of me (oh to be that thin again!)and rest my head on my knees. Bag open, papers and books everywhere, such a slob.

  2. Hey! Do you like the new picture of the frosted tree at top? If it's 'too December' in your mind, let me know!

  3. I teach a developmental college reading class. The average reading level of my students is about fifth grade.

    I make them take turns reading out loud. When I told them they'd have to do this at the beginning of the semester, you can imagine the looks of horror I got, I'm sure. But it's always inspiring to see how they progress, paragraph by painful paragraph. Now I actually have students VOLUNTEER to read aloud, which never ceases to amaze me.

    I'm curious - what grade(s) do you teach?

  4. First, I loved being able to have everything under control and organized in high school. I forgot about that and think that might have been one of the things I actually liked about being in high school. My life is nothing like that now.

    I love the new pic. Thanks for taking care of all those details that make this blog possible. Can't wait for gingerbread. I'm thinking several houses, a train, and a carousel. Did you get the other pictures?

    I teach 9-12th grade English in an alternative program and AP Lit and Lang. So I have readers from the second grade level to beyond what I can do. It's an amazing journey every day.