Last summer I had the incredible opportunity to spend three days bunking with teacher friends in the dorms at St. Lawrence College and workshopping the days with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. They shared their new book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents, and we grew and felt entirely changed afterwards.
The inspiration began a process of change in me and sustaining it, practicing it, implementing it continues to challenge me. Although these three days last summer were pivotal, I am still struggling to shift my students from “fake reading” to real reading.
We are currently reading The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline and with each passage revisited, I gain more appreciation for the writing, for the message. Students have done close readings, have engaged in discussion groups, have used open questions to look at the craft of the writing, but still, I see them consulting online sources instead of relying on their own abilities and insights gained through reading. They are hunting for the answers from the voice of another. They don’t trust their own abilities to read.
The recognition of this coincidental hunting motif in the story and my own quest to engage adolescents in real reading makes me smile, and I decide to bring as little with me on the journey so I can run through the forest of reading, hanging on to my ability to dream.