Today was the first day of summer school, and for the third straight year I am teaching during the summer. It’s definitely an interesting thing, having students who have all failed more than one subject during the school year, but very few of them actually failed English (my subject matter). That makes it strange, teaching these kids English when most have completed English already and are prepared in the subject for the fall. So I’m instead focusing on helping them to enjoy reading.
I remember when I was in ninth grade and my English teacher asked us what we liked most about the subject. My answer was getting to read all kinds of different things. I have always loved reading because it allows me to use my imagination, and I sure have a pretty big one, I’ve noticed throughout the years. But I knew I wasn’t going to be teaching students who were like me, kids who loved school. When I asked the students today what they liked about English they said “nothing.” I was right, but that’s okay.
They told me that they first off didn’t like having to read. They referred to it as “boring” and “lame.” So I told them not to worry about it. This summer all they had to do was listen, and then write down their honest reactions and character information. They looked at me like I had three heads. But I was serious with them, and I stayed true to my word today. I will all summer.
You see, I learned early on that if I give kids the books and tell them they have the option of reading along while I read aloud, it gives them ownership over the experience. Instead of being frustrated readers, they can be interested listeners, which is a huge change from what they go through in their English classes during the year. They looked at me like I was crazy at the start, but by the end of the reading experience they all had their sheets filled out with character information and honest reactions.
We’ll see how it goes, but at least there’s a spark there. Let’s see if it can be fanned into a flame.