Year Two

We are on Week 4. I have a student teacher. I’m no longer taking graduate courses so it’s weird not having homework. It’s weirder that my kids are big enough for preschool now!  I am helping now with our Student Council which is very enjoyable despite the fact that I have not been particularly useful so far.

So what’s new this year? For this post, I will just talk about SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) which during my first year I did not think would be a valuable use of classroom time.

This year, I think it’s lovely.

Student enter the room and I simply ask what they should be doing. They quickly get their books out (usually – hey, they’re still human!) :) and by the time the bell rings they have their books open. I get my book ready and sit on my stool (slightly higher than students allowing me to observe what is on their desks) and survey the room. As long as they see I am watching them, they starting reading within a minute or two. Generally, getting started is the only struggle and once they have gotten into their books (their choice!) I don’t have to do much redirecting.

So far, I’ve had kids beg to read until lunch (when we have an awkward 27 minute chunk that is strange to fill after 15 minutes of SSR out of our 75 minute block) and have had another student thank me, explaining how stressed she was about her math test when she arrived in my room.

Before I implemented SSR, I had not thoroughly considered the “baggage” students bring into our classrooms from their other classes and their personal lives. This activity seems to allow students to relax and begin fresh. What a nice break.

I’m not going to lie. I am benefitting from this as well. One of my goals is to read more this year and so far I have been able to read about a book a week! This helps me to catch up on some of the more modern titles that kids are more excited by as well as some of those classics that I just never got to in college. This means that I am always reading something that I could potentially bring into the classroom to teach to students at some point, so it is still benefitting the students.

I also believe that it’s very important that students see the teacher actively engaged in reading as well – no hypocrisy. I can only imagine that if *I* used the time to grade/work, students would view it as study hall time as well and the goal/purpose would be lost.  (In fact, if students work on other work, I take it away and return it to the appropriate teacher. Helping my reputation as strict teacher!)

Despite reading about “bell ringer” activities, I feel like this is the best thing I can do in my own classroom to help students begin each class. This is definitely something I plan to continue! Thanks to all those who encouraged me to reconsider – it paid off!

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