Small Victories

(If you are an English teacher, or aspiring English Teacher, please stop here.  Go read “Book Love” by Penny Kittle. Follow Meenoo Rami and #Engchat.  You’ll be a better teacher, reader, and dancer.  Do it.)

I’d like to savor a moment of happiness.

Each summer, I go through the process of recklessly re-working my curriculum.  I work myself into a frenzy trying to incorporate all of the pedagogies into my little room:  PBL, PrBL, MakerEd, UbD, Inquiry, etc. 1

And, as usual, I’ve been doing wrong.

This year, I’m ready.  Armed with “Book Love” and a wonderful administrator, I’m cobbling together a library for my students.2  In the past, I’ve put books on shelves and hoped they would find their way to my guys.  Now, it’s an integral part of my class.

I want my students to read.  I’m not all that concerned with “what”, just that they are habitually in the act of reading.  No more pop quizzes, no more 500 words project assignments to cajole/enforce a reading agenda.  Just a class practicing their craft – reading challenging novels and light, beach reading.  You know, like people.3

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I was that kid who snuck a book under my desk.  In 6th grade, I finished “The Dark is Rising” two weeks early and still remember the teacher rolling her eyes as she called to the office for the sequel.  My parents wondered why I never earned above a C in that class.

But today, I’m smiling.  Out of all the hundreds of tiny changes, this is the first one I’m really proud of.  It’s the first one where, if I were a student, I would absolutely love it; if my daughter’s class did this, I’d be thrilled.

Would you want this for your classroom, or your child’s classroom?

Set the buzzwords aside.  If we prescribe for our students what we would never allow for our children, we’re on the wrong track.  Systems that remove adults or replace them with computers or reduce learning to bubble tests would be unacceptable for my students because they would be unacceptable for my daughter.  That’s it, that’s all. 4

I don’t have all the right answers.  But I’m happy to report that I’m closer to the right questions.  And, in the midst of all the chaos, I’d like to savor that.  It’s the small victories that keep us going.


  1. No, Charlotte Danielson, you’re not invited 

  2. “I need money for books”  “I how much?” “Well, give me a number.”  “Why don’t you give me a number?” I nearly had a stroke. 

  3. Oh it has to be research based?  How about a study that says reading for pleasure improves every area of “cognitive development”? And it’s Common Core aligned (1.3.9-10K).  Eat my anti-nonsense laser, edu-jerks!  PEW PEW!  PEW! PEW PEW! 

  4. To continue a theme, this is not an original thought.  Read way smarter people here 

2 thoughts on “Small Victories

  1. Why isn’t Charlotte Danielson invited? I’m only asking because we’ve been hearing a lot from her (like, a LOT) in one of my ed classes.

    • She’s boring. Teaching is a dynamic profession and her framework, for better or worse, narrows it down to a checklist. I’m pretty sure she’s said the same.

      More-so, I don’t get the obsession with her work. She’s fine. Why we spend a full week of our lives looking over her work is confounding.

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