Saturday, February 23, 2013


I love matchmaking. Nothing to do with romance: what I love is matching up--or even seeing someone else match up--a person with a book he or she loves. This week was full of it.
  • Friday morning before 1st period started, a knot of students was breathlessly discussing the extra credit novel--After Dark by Haruki Murakami. “I don’t even know what genre this is!” “It’s sort of like horror because there’s this man without a face.” “There’s a man without a face!?!” “Well, maybe he has something over his face....”
  • A table-group of 5 students in 1st period Friday were noisily discussing The Hunger Games when they were supposed to be doing a peer-revision exercise on their rough drafts. I asked sternly how this was related to giving feedback on their peers’ papers. They said, “Oh, sorry. Frank wanted to know how to write better, so we said he should read more for fun. We were trying to convince him to read The Hunger Games.”
  • I matched a 10th grade student up with Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’d talked with the student and his parents back in the fall at parent-teacher conferences about how to participate in a small group discussion as an introvert--and emailed them the link to Cain’s TED Talk. I wrote a note on the student’s test, which I handed back Friday, that I’d just finished the book, thought he might like it, and he should see me if he was interested. He saw me before the end of the period.
  • I matched up another teacher with a new novel for her course. She was looking for a middle school level book with a Latin American connection. I gave her Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, and she said she cried reading it on the train.
I love my job. Sometimes becoming a better teacher is about trying new things, pushing outside of your comfort zone--and sometimes it is just about doing what gives you deep joy. Like for English teachers, talking about books you love and watching others fall in love with them, too. After all, reading is important for so many reasons--which I learned to articulate better from Kelly Gallagher’s Reading Reasons: Motivational Mini-Lessons for Middle and High School--a book I recommended to a friend just last week....

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