Monday, August 31, 2015

Starting a new school year full of food for thought- What questions do you ask your students?

Happy First Day of School!

Today our Grasslands students come back to school or enter it for the first time. As teachers we are responsible for creating a culture of learning within our classrooms. For some, this may seem an easy task; but I ask you "What questions do you ask your students to foster a learning community?"

As Burkins and Yaris, 2014, discuss in their book "Reading Wellness: Lessons in Independence and Proficiency" too often if a visitor in our schools asks our children any of the following questions, many students have trouble answering them.

  • What do you love about reading?
  • Who are your favourite authors?
  • What are your favourite genres? Why?
  • How is what you are reading changing the way you think?
  • What books bring you such enjoyment that you forget you are reading?
Burkins and Yaris, 2014, also state in the same first chapter of their book Reading Wellness, that "these days, too many teachers struggle to answer questions such as "What do you love about teaching?" "What daily teaching practices bring you such joy that you get lost in them? and "How does your work with students help you discover your best self?". So when the lazy days of summer turn quickly into the fast-paced stressful days of classroom life, stopping to think and question our current models for reading instruction  might lead us to a better level of reading wellness.

As Burkins and Yaris, 2014, ask "We can't help but wonder if vaccinating against 'comprehenza,' treating 'decoderitis,' or intervening to remedy a case of 'robotitis' has led to inaccurate assumptions that all is well with our readers. Perhaps it is time to stop and ask students (and ourselves), 'How are you?' Many people are likely to respond to this question with a cursory 'I am well.' Perhaps the better question, however, is 'How well are you?' with the parallel question related to reading --- "How well are the readers with who you work?"The authors then define the term wellness  as "maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable" which might leave your mind reeling with ideas as it did mine.

 As I sit in an office vacant of children's positive buzz of energy that usually fills the first day of school, I am left pondering many questions but realizing only one solid answer at this time---our work in building capacity for literacy learning in all Grasslands classrooms is NOT done!

We have spent three years focused on literacy learning and our journey must continue, as each of us is capable of greater understanding in the complex task of how each child in Grasslands not only learns to read, but becomes a positive member in our literacy learning community. Carry-on!

Thank you for the work you do each day with students as part of your 'one wild and precious life" and best wishes for wellness this school year!


1 comment:

  1. Check out Edutopia's article "Helping Students Start the Year with A Positive Mindset at for practical ideas such as journaling prompts, etc.

    I used to be . . . but now I am...

    I used to think . . . but now I think . . .

    I used to do . . . but now I do . . .