Reading Attitudes



I have been lucky. My parents instilled positive reading positive reading attitudes in my life ever since I could pick up a picture book. My mother was a teacher before she had children. I was lucky that my father had enough money made enough money so my mother could stay home with us when we were little. She read to us every day. We constantly went to the local library to attend children’s readings and to pick out new books to read. Growing up I had little exposure to television. We did not get cable until I was away at high school. Our summers were spent at a  cottage in northern Michigan where a television was not even present. This lack of television  created a need for other forms of entertainment. My parents encouraged books as the means to fill free time or as an activity to fill a rainy day.

The most vivid memory of reading comes from when I was in first grade. We lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The local NBA basketball team sponsored a youth reading program. The students who read the most books would receive tickets to a game. I remember reading tow or three books a day hoping to win tickets. I believe the program was “Bucks Love Books!” I was competing against my older brother. We raced through each stack of books that we brought home from the library. We ended up in a tie, most likely orchestrated by mom. I know I read over one hundred books and received tickets to a game. We went to the basketball game together with a since of pride for earning the tickets.

My family has always encouraged reading. My grandmother, who was legally blind for the last 30 years of her life. Enjoyed reading and listening to books till her death last year. When ever we would talk, she would ask questions about what I was reading or had read lately. She used to give books as presents for birthdays and Christmas. My family has done a terrific job of modeling reading habits. Even after my  parents gave in to their children’s plea to purchase cable, they still set strict guidelines and hour limitations for its use. With these restrictions they forced reading upon me. I am forever thankful. Even though I did not enjoy being forced to read.

I plan on being a positive role model for my students and children. I will use references to literature in my lessons. By using these references my students might be encouraged to read for more understanding of the references. I realize most parents are not like mine. Many children come home today to a empty house. They have the freedom to turn on the television any time for entertainment. I hope to set up an after school reading program wherever I teach. This program will be for students as an alternative to going to a empty house.

Hopefully I can encourage students to gain a love for books. There are so many wonderful bools written each year that should be read by everyone. I feel that due to the increasing popularity of television, on-demand video and the internet reading books has declined. It would be a shame if the quality of books deteriorates. Students need to realize that all of the material on the web and television is also available at the corner bookstore.

*** Originally Written in 1998 for my Teaching Reading Class Eng 308 @GVSU for Professor Jill Warren. (with some updates)

Good to reflect on learning so many years later. Need to start up that reading program!



Why Do I Teach?

I was pursuing twitter this morning, following all the wonderful Michigan conferences that I am missing, when I ran across a tweet from my friend, Michael Medvinsky. Michael was at home following the #zetacon hashtag, when he was inspired to act by writing a blog post and recording a video. Kevin Honeycutt was delivering the Keynote at Zetacon and asked “Why do you teach?” This is a very important questions for educators. Most of the time we share ideas about how we teach. Most conference focus on Pedagogy and “best practices”. Rarely do we hear teachers share their WHYS for teaching. Often without knowing why people do what they do we have a disconnect and fail to appreciate their work.

I know the why is often a long complex story. It is never the public assumption as to why teachers teach. “Teachers teach for the summers off, the benefits and 9-3 jobs.” Teachers need to share their WHYS so we get past the assumptions and focus on the reality. As schools across the country kick off the 2014-2015 school year teachers need to reflect on why we teach. I would like to say want to inspire and change the world, but there is so much more to why I teach. Here is a short video I made:

I know I missed some of my great inspirational teachers especially Jack Ridl from Hope College.

Please reflect on WHY you teach. I hope you can share your story with me by either posting a comment on the blog or creating your own video on using the hashtag #iTeach on twitter.

Have a great 2014-2015 school year. Always remember WHY you are doing what you do. Thanks Kevin and Michael for the inspirational reminder.