Top 10 Things I’ll Miss Over Summer Break by Kris Barr Paquette
It’s the last week of school. I feel like I’m drowning in my to-do list. I almost have all of my classroom library re-collected. Summer Reading Books have been checked out. Field trips are over. The end is in sight, friends. But, as always the end is a bit bitter-sweet, even for a tired teacher like me.
10 – Staff. I am supported by a great troop of teachers, who love and embrace reading, and support staff. For example, Mrs. Wright, our librarian, always has a welcoming smile in the morning as I zip through the hallway with my tote bag strewn haphazardly over my shoulder and my coffee clenched in my fist. What a great way to start the day! She is every teachers dream wingman, always ready with a great title in hand for just the right reader. Every school deserves to be as lucky as ours.
9 – Purchase Orders. This time of year buzzes with a bit of excitement because there inevitably ends up being a little leftover budget money. Our new fifth grade teacher happened to wistfully say she’d like some copies of The Wild Robot by Peter Brown for next year. She was both surprised and delighted when I told her our principal green lighted the purchase. I can’t wait to hear how the fifth graders fall in love with this book in the fall.
8 – Eighth Graders. Sure this time of year they get a little big in the pants and mouthy, but I still love them. I have worked with this group for four years now, carefully cultivating a love of reading with them. I remember how so many of them were striving readers when they started fifth grade, and how I struggled to help them find books that they would love. Now many of them cannot put books down! They’re reading at a 11th grade reading level. I, once again, feel encouraged that what I do matters. If I get great books in their hands, their love of reading will happen, and in turn they will become thriving readers. Sadly, this will be the last year of choice reading for many of these kids. They’ll go onto high school never to pick out a book again. But I am hopeful, someday they’ll return to reading.
7 – Book boxes in the mailroom. I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning out my mailbox with one exception, book boxes. When I see an order arrive, I immediately stop what I intended to be doing, take that box down to my room, and rip it open like a kid at Christmas.
6 – Tidying My Classroom Library. This is a never ending job, but I always like rethinking how I have books displayed. This year I created a Must-read-Book Ledge on my wipe board and I found that keeping that fresh with new titles and old favorites helps book circulation. Some of the kids’ favorite check-outs from the book ledge this year included Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry, Ghost by Jason Reynolds, and Posted by John David Anderson.
5 – Connecting with Kids About Books. Sure I post mini-book talks on Facebook, but nothing beats a swarm of readers running at you to grab the book you just booktalked. My heart bubbles over every time it happens. The last book I book talked was Bubbles by Abby Cooper. What a great read! So many of my readers can connect with the main character having to adult too much or her anxiety over her home life. If you haven’t read it, add it to your summer pile. When she returned it, Zoey told me, “I couldn’t put this book down.”
4 – Connecting Kids with Authors. It is always the coolest experience when you can skype with an author or even better, have an author visit. This year, for example, during March Reading we were able to purchase Jinx by Sage Blackwood for all the kids who wanted to bring their parents back to school for a Q & A with Sage via Skype. What an awesome experience that parents always enjoy, too. Always impressing me, the kids asked great questions. I loved hearing their thoughts on the book, too.
3 – Notes On My Desk. I have a very simple checkout system as I am often out of my room when kids come in to grab a book. They just leave me a post-it on my keyboard with their name and the book title. I love seeing a pile of notes, and reading their comments that really make me smile.
2 – A Full Return Bin. Likewise, I love getting books back and hearing the students thoughts on a book. This year, I had many eighth graders sputtering at the ending of Jason Reynolds’ The Long Way Down. I watched them read it in one day, and eagerly anticipated the great conversation of their take on the main character’s decision. Likewise, one of my fifth graders returned Sunny to my classroom and said, “I like these books, but I hate the cliffhangers! When do you think the next one will be out?” I was lucky enough to meet Jason at the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference in Detroit this year. If you ever have the chance, do it.
1- The kids. After all, that’s what we are in it for, right? I will miss each one of them and worry about them over the summer.
Kris Barr Paquette has been a reading teacher for 18 years at Marshall Greene Middle School in Birch Run, Michigan. She currently is the Title I Reading Specialist. She’s a Harry Potter fan, a true Gryffindor- if you must know, and an avid reader. When you don’t find her at school, she’ll most likely be reading on her front porch.