|Stolen from my classroom|
library circa 2006.
Tuesday I attended a full day training about the Common Core which turns out to be much less than I feared. In fact, it looks a lot like the way we were doing things in my classroom some 22 years ago, back when I started. I could swear the sample Common Core student test question the presenter read to use had been cribbed from the CLAS test which used to be given to every student in California before someone decided it was wrong-headed. Turns out it was just decades ahead of its time.
But that's not what I want to talk about today.
At lunch, on my way to the men's room, I heard the young woman who was setting up the sandwiches call out, "Mr. Chester!" I said hello, but had no idea who she was. When I returned to pick up my lunch we chatted. I don't get embarrassed about forgetting student names anymore so I asked her to tell me. Once she did, I knew exactly who she was and could remember her in detail. She then confessed that she still had a book she stole from my classroom library when she was in seventh grade.
"As long as you read it," I said.
"Oh, I did! I loved it. I just saw it there on the shelf and felt sorry for it so I took it. I read it three times."
"What was it?" I asked.
It took her a moment to come up with the title, "Blood and Chocolate. I still have it."
Before I started putting my students into book clubs, I had a classroom library of a couple hundred titles for the students to select. These titles changed all the time because I've long been a used book sale hound and because I've never kept track of what was in my classroom library. If you see something you want to read, just take it. I figure the books there are meant to be read so they should be in the students hands, even if they've moved on to another grade.
I probably wouldn't make a very good librarian, I suppose.
I had a colleague once who insisted that every book be checked out and that their spines be carefully taken care of so they never broke. He left behind a library of well over a thousand classroom books all in perfect condition, nearly unread. Instead, I've seeded the world with an equal number of titles, all well worn, many with broken spines, a few of them read three times.