If you have read this blog before you know how much I value literacy and creating a culture of reading at your school. At our school we have consistently talked about building a culture of literacy. As the principal I think this is the key focus for any school. Yep, from pre-school to high school. Some say kids should be reading at home and not in school. If we believe that, then why should we spend time doing science experiments in school? Kids should do that at home. If we believe that then we should say kids do not need PE because they should exercise at home. We talk so much in education today about making school “hand on, minds on” and we have so many more cute saying that essentially mean kids should be “doing” in school and not just receiving information. I am perplexed that we do not have the same attitude towards reading. If we want our kids to be better reader then they need time to read.
You can look through older posts and see how we handle literacy at our middle school. Click here for a summary post on our literacy efforts. I encourage you to check it out and see some of the things we have done to encourage our kids to become fluent in literacy. We would also love to hear what you have done in your school to build that same culture.
At our school we know it is ok to spend time reading in the classroom. Actually, it is not only ok, it is a core belief of ours. Is this tricky in a middle school? Certainly. It took some time to convince teachers I was happy to walk into a classroom and see the kids actually reading. I have written a series of posts on this blog with a more detailed look at the process. It takes a long time to build a culture of reading at a middle school and it is difficult to maintain that same culture. But we know how critical this is – perhaps the most critical thing we can do as educators.
Have you been over to the Nerdy Book Club?
If you are not familiar with the site you need to check it out. You can easily sign up for the emailed version of the daily pots written by a sampling of some of the finest educators out there.
There are a variety of posts on this community blog. There are book reviews, classroom advice, general information about literacy, stories about author visits and so much more. The latest post today from the Nerdy Book Club was sent to me by one of our teachers who has played a key role in creating our culture of literacy. You can read it here.
This post highlights why so many teachers and schools are afraid to spend classroom time reading. When a school evaluates teachers and reading in the classroom automatically knocks down their score, why would they read in class? The humorous part is I can see some teachers who know the true value of reading and still sneak in some quality reading in the classroom time. I am so happy this is not they way we run our school. If we want our kids to become better readers (and thus better thinkers, problem solvers, etc…) then they need time to read. If a school does not show how much it values reading, then how will kids embrace the value of reading?
Fellow principals and school leaders, I challenge you to confront this practice if it takes place in your school. What have you and your school done to create a culture or reading in your school? I would love to hear how you have worked to impact this change in thinking.