If you're not currently teaching, what are you focused on?:
I am a middle school librarian
What grade do you teach?:
I teach information science and library research skills
How many years have you been teaching?:
"colored card stock--can never have enough"
I came to teaching later in life after many years in business. I taught high school English for ten years before becoming a librarian at Spring Forest Middle School in Houston, Texas. There is no better feeling than to connect a student with a book that they read and love.
For years my wife told me I should be offering book choices to my students instead of whole class novels when I was teaching high school English. When I finally took her advice, I remember offering my Pre-AP classes a choice of four different books, one of which was especially difficult to read. I didn't think anyone would choose it. I made a point of telling each class how difficult the book was with it insanely long and convoluted sentence structures. Sure enough, in each class I had several students who willingly took the challenge and in each case, each student who chose this book (A Picture of Dorian Gray) read the entire book and did quite well with the project they had to complete. The thing that I learned about choice was that it doesn't have to be a free-for-all, anything goes kind of choice but rather the students' ability to choose between what is available. They choose, they take on the responsibility for their own choice. Choice doesn't have to be difficult, just available.
In fact, I was the one who wanted to interview them separately. I've found in the past that answers are sometimes skewed when genders are mixed. I wanted to make sure that answers were not skewed by preconceived notions of what someone else expected an answer to be.
I was also surprised by their response, especially since I have corrected all the girls at one time or another but did not get "attitude" from any of them ever. I got the feeling that they were all talking about the same teacher (I told them I didn't want to hear any specific names) and that that teacher had not done much in the way of creating any kind of relationship with the students. I know that my first goal with students is to build a solid relationship even before beginning teaching any content. I've been told by teachers, "My students don't have to like me, they just need to respect me and learn," but I've found that students who like you and respect you are much easier to teach, and the classroom atmosphere is so much more pleasant.