George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Teacher as Reader

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Did you know that if you’re a reader you’re more likely to learn something new everyday? It also means that you’re more likely to vote, exercise and be more cultural! (UNB Facts)

In this current age of text messaging, visuals, infographics, blogs, bullet points, lists, 140 character tweets, are we reading enough as educators? Those of us who are connected educators share each other’s work all the time, but are we reading everything we share? We encourage our students to read probably on a daily basis, especially us English teachers, but do we ever think that we ourselves can expand our own reading skills?

Can we as educated adults improve our reading and literacy skills? If so, how? what type of skills should we hope to gain? or strengthen?

Do we expand our reading horizons often enough? Read different subjects outside our comfort zone? would that discourage us from reading for a bit? possibly...but might it help build up our reading stamina?

How much should we be reading? I am not quite sure, and I am hoping to figure that out for myself. I do think that reading, just like writing, is a very personal experience. It should tailor to the specific needs of the individual (myself) and no other.

I am hoping to expand my own reading horizons this holiday season.  I already have a few books on my list that I couldn’t see myself reading last year:

  1. Blackboard: A personal history of the classroom. Lewis Buzbee.
  2. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Thomas Kuhn.
  3. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Paulo Freire.

It’s very easy to Like or Favourite an image, a quote or an infographic without reading the content that it stems from. These tools themselves are representative of creativity, innovation and free thinking. I do believe in the power of visuals, quotes, text messages, and tweets. But I also believe in the power of what lies behind these tools: thoughts and ideas that can change the world around us.

In order for deep learning to occur, we must delve into ideas and thoughts to be able to interact with them ourselves. 

Reading, responding, reflecting.

Often going back to the basics helps us move forward.

Please share if you have a reading list for this holiday break and your thoughts on reading in general.

(UNB Facts)

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

Comments (16) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Gaetan, I am feeling like that too lately, but because it's so different than my "usual" self sometimes it worries me. But my husband is exactly like that too, a "weird reader". He would read a few chapters here and there, get a few quotes out of them for conversations, discussions and teaching, and that is his way of learning. Also a lot of youtube videos. Whereas for me, I feel like I can't fully grasp the concept unless I see it in words. Sometimes I wonder how much of our personalities impact how we learn....artistic, introverts, social...

Martin Richards's picture
Martin Richards
I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

My eyes don't quite work with printed text. The letters don't stay still on the page, especially when I'm tired. So I prefer to listen. At school I loved to listen to my teachers reading aloud. As an adult, I use text-to-voice programs to listen to books.

Perhaps some of your students have similar issues? They prefer to listen than read. Do you find it so?

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Thank you for sharing Martin, yes I have students with many different learning needs and abilities. Text to voice programs are gems when it comes to meeting students' literacy needs. Regularly, I try to find our text in audio and share that link with them, many students find it helpful. We also do some reading aloud in my classes, but I find many college students are not keen on it, if anyone is reading aloud they vote it'd be me :)

But to me that's still a form of reading. If you're listening to a book, article, anything if that is the medium that works best to meet your ability, really you will gain the same knowledge as one who reads the text. I think everyone should cater to their individual need of learning, otherwise there won't be much motivation. I guess my post was in general discussing the idea of us educators seeking out material to delve into outside of what we usually expose ourselves to. I wonder up until what grade level did you enjoy your teachers reading aloud?

Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT's picture
Laura Bradley, MA, NBCT
Middle school English/Digital Design/Broadcast Media teacher

Hey, Brian! My book club is on -- maybe you can find one that way. It's a different kind of book club because the members usually don't know each other prior to joining the club. I think this is good because it means we don't get off-topic with personal stories (it also helps that our leader keeps us on topic... Always an English teacher!). We meet on Sundays at 2:00, so no wine, and I think that makes a difference! We've become known as the "book club that actually talks about the book," and new members are warned that they'd better not come to the meeting if they haven't read the book. ;-) I think the group has a strong desire to read and talk about great books (rather than have an excuse to socialize), and that makes for a great book club.

Chelsea Wilson's picture
Chelsea Wilson
Technology Coordinator/Teacher

Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Paulo Freire. I read that in Graduate school. I find that I love to read books about teaching. Most of the books that I choose to read for pleasure are actually on some professors reading list for class. In fact, when colleagues were going back to school they often borrowed from my library instead of buying the required readings. I hope to find other like minded teacher who would like to read for pleasure and no requirement.

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Chelsea, agree with you! i think reading about teaching and pedagogy definitely helps me be a better teacher because it allows me to reflect on my practices and see where change is possible. Do you have a community you can join or a book club in your area that would allow you to connect with passionate educators like yourself?

Jennie Fitzkee's picture

We are role models for our students, so reading for pleasure becomes exciting for children when it is exciting for us. SSR every day does more for learning than most of what we teach. I read at least two books a day to children, plus chapter reading. Our favorite transition activity is to get a book from the reading shelf. Reading is the core of learning, but to get there our teaching needs to be language based. Listening comprehension comes before reading comprehension, and most instruction in early grades is oral. I will always champion for reading. More on this subject to follow!

Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Hi Jennie, thank you for your thoughts and would love to read more! I agree we are our best models for students. Listening comprehension is so important. As an ELL when I was a child, I understood communication through listening first, than reading. It is one reason why we need to be very clear in our communication of instructions with students, before they read the instructions. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts here!

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

I am absolutely an unrepentant book nerd. I am constantly reading about a dozen books at a time, plus my magazines. I have every eclectic interests, so I switch according to the mood or the topic of need before me, whether it be informational text about teaching or my addiction to orchids, or fiction which is my favorite genre, and for me, in the languages I speak, either English, French or Spanish mostly. Reading is not only an escape to far off places, it opens my eyes to understand multiple perspectives on global issues. I try not to make conclusions too soon about these matters, without the help of characters, real or fictitious, who are in the midst of the situations which warrant I do my part to understand. I suppose this is part of what drew me to become a language teacher! I cannot imagine being without books! I would surely shrivel up and be on my way off the planet. I hope my nerdiness inspires students to pursue their own adventures in reading!

Oh, and on my current reading list...

La Naissance d'une nation, by Pierre Caron, about the settling of Canada by French explorers and colonists, and their relationships with the First Nations of Canada

Japanese in MangaLand - seeking to fulfill a long-held dream to learn to communicate in Japanese!

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa, about a Palestinian family and their experiences with the founding of Israel, an often less known story in the USA, I think, at least one I have not seen in the papers here very much at all. Well written and worthwhile.

Thanks Rasul!


Rusul Alrubail's picture
Rusul Alrubail
Edutopia Community Facilitator/ Student Voice & Literacy at The Writing Project

Don, Mornings in Jenin sounds very interesting. I will add it to my reading list, thank you! I think it's fantastic that you read in different languages. While I am able to read and write in arabic, I steer away from reading books because as it stands it's my second language so reading can become daunting. Though I should start adding more arabic books to practice my comprehension skills, only way to get better at it.

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