The other day my students and I were talking about sixth grade. It’s that time of year, the days we have left together are so few, and many of them have already begun to worry about moving on. In my district transitioning from fifth to sixth requires a move of buildings and the start of middle school. Many students are apprehensive about the change. Often they are focused on one worry – how will they ever remember their locker combination? This year I heard another one, how will they be readers without me?
When we talked, I discovered the root of their concern. They weren’t sure who the next teacher would be and would that teacher also be a reader? I assured them that their teachers were, in fact, addicted to books just as I am. Our conversation then turned to the benefits of having a teacher who is a reader. After discussing this with all three of my fifth grade classes I asked them to write on an index card what were the benefits of having a teacher who reads. With that in mind, we present to you our top ten list:
Top Ten Reasons it is Good if Your Teacher is a Reader
10. Book Recommendations – a teacher who reads can recommend good books to her students. (This was listed as the number one reason on more than half of the students’ cards.)
She can recommend the perfect book for me.
She knows me and knows what book will work.
She can find the book that is supposed to be my next book.
9. Time to read – a teacher who reads knows the importance of time in class to read.
Because we have time to read in class, I end up reading more. I then read at home because I want to know what happens.
She knows that our independent reading time is important. We can’t skip it.
8. Connections – a teacher who reads understands her students.
I think teachers who read will know that sometimes you just have to read, even if they are trying to teach. You can’t help it.
Mrs. S knew why I was sad because she knew what happened in the book I was reading. She cried too.
You relate to us through books. You “get” us.
7. Conferences – a teacher who reads knows that readers need to talk about what they are reading with other students and their teachers.
I have become a better reader because Mrs. S conferences with me and helps me to understand my books. I like talking to her and my friends about them.
When you talk to me about what I read, I am more excited to read.
6. Knowledge – a teacher who reads what her students are reading knows the books that they are “addicted” to.
Since you read books for us, not for adults, you know the perfect books for our age level.
You know about books other than the ones you read as a kid – you know about all of the new books coming out.
You know what books kids our age like. You like the same stuff we do.
5. Environment – a teacher who reads creates an environment conducive to reading.
You’re surrounded by thousands of books in this reading room.
You cannot help but read in this class.
Being surrounded by books, in a room where everyone reads, makes you a better reader.
4. Access – a teacher who reads often purchases a great deal of books that the students can choose from.
Our room is full of books, all genres, different series. New books and old books.
You buy books on your phone when we need a book.
I can always come in here and get a book. I’m never stuck with something I don’t want to read.
3. Understanding – a teacher who reads knows the roadblocks you will hit while reading. They understand the struggle to get into a new book or genre. They get the heartache over finishing a series you don’t want to end.
I think teacher should read a lot of different books so they can answer questions the students might have about the books.
I think it helps to have a teacher who loves reading because then they understand your reasons to like or dislike a book.
2. Role model – a teacher who reads encourages you to become a reader. They lead by example.
I think it’s a good thing because, in my case, last year I like never read. But this year you have gotten me addicted to it. So my reason is that they help you like reading.
Mrs. S is a good role model. She always encourages me to read and become a reader.
I think you just expect us to become readers like you are, and that makes me want to be one.
1. Choice – a teacher who reads gets that we all don’t love the same books. That not every book will meet the needs of every student. These teachers often celebrate choice in reading class.
If she’s a reader, she buys more books – all different types. And then lets us choose what to read by what we’re interested in.
She doesn’t make me stop reading graphic novels.
Finally, two answers I couldn’t leave out:
Why is it important to have a teacher who reads?
Because they know about the books you are reading. And readers know more.
In this classroom, we are encouraged to read. And since you read what we read, you relate to us.
After listening to my students, I’m so glad I am a reader. Aren’t you?
Katherine Sokolowski has taught for fourteen years and currently teaches fifth grade in Monticello, Illinois. She is passionate about reading both in her classroom and also with her two sons. You can find her online at http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter as @katsok.