Ten Things I Love About the Beginning of a ‘Nerdy’ School Year by Tony Keefer

Even though the beginning of the school year is typically a frantic hot mess for me (and hopefully for all teachers who are reading this post), nothing beats the start of a school year.  I have learned to rewire my internal clock and celebrate New Year’s on August 28 instead of January 1.  The only real difference is that I stay to the wee hours of the morning on August 27 because I am too jacked up about the next day compared to crashing by 12:15 on December 31.


Here are my Top 10 reasons for loving the beginning of another ‘Nerdy Book Club’ school year:


10) The relief I feel when I no longer am tweaking my room design.  I spend a little too much time on this.  For more info on the joyful craziness of designing a learning space gives me, click here.


9) Deciding which book will be my first read aloud.  Over the last few years there has been quite a Twitter conversation about what we should read aloud first to our classes.  For some, the choice needs to meet some very specific requirements like being talk-worthy, but not too deep or a book that can be read relatively quickly.  I typically go with the “WOW, this book is AWESOME approach.  So this year my kiddos are listening to and completely loving Chris Grabenstein’s Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. If you haven’t read this book, GO GET IT NOW.


8) Sharing with kids and parents that we will not be having an at-home reading log this year because … well … they kind of suck (I wish I could actually be that blunt, I usually just explain how reading logs aren’t really needed when you become a member of a Nerdy Book Club type of class).  Then watching the both kids and parents smile.


7) Unleashing the kids on a exploratory journey of the classroom library to do what Colby Sharp calls speed-dating with books.  I have been doing this for a long time now and just listening in to the kids talk about books and jot down titles is amazing.  “Hey, have you read this?”  “YES! That is the best book ever!”


6) Starting on day one with a book talk and watching the hands fly up when I say, “Would anyone want to read this book?”


5) Having the discussion with the class, that no matter what happens, we will always have our independent reading time at some point, every single day of the year.  Then fielding several what if questions like, “Well what if we have a day with an assembly, fire drill and an early dismissal due to a snowstorm?”  Then I smile and reply, “Well if, after the visit from Mr. Good Clean Fun and the fire drill, we still haven’t read yet, we will pack up everything but our books and wait for parents to pick you up while we are reading in the commons.” (By the way, I loved it when 2 of my kids actually knew who Mr. Good Clean Fun was and thought he’d be a great assembly for our school).


4) The moment of joy when, at end of our third day of reading workshop more than half the class groans when I said it’s time to stop reading.


3) Seeing kids come back from their first visit to the library with 7 or 8 books in a stack.  In our school it is a statement of pride if you can’t fit the books you checked out into your backpack.


2) Talking about books with kids from last year’s class in the hall before school officially starts.  As much as I always love my new class, I always miss my old one.


1) Ending the day with reading aloud and hearing the kids scream, “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” when the PA system interrupts the reading to release the bussers.  Then trying to explain to the walkers that it wouldn’t be kind to the bussers if we kept reading without them.


So, what are some of your favorite reasons for being back in the saddle with another group of readers?


Tony Keefer (@tonykeefer) lives with his NBC family and teaches 4th grade NBCers in Dublin, Ohio.  He also writes for Choice Literacy and on his own blog atychiphobia 2.0.