I love reading a good book that offers me something that I can use immediately in the classroom. Better than that is a book study where I can read and think with colleagues who have similar passions. By discussing what I read, just like our children, I guess, I form new ideas and build on my thinking. Before the holiday, Reading Coach Melanie Holtsman asked who would like to study the new book, Falling in Love with Close Reading by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts. Melanie had been introduced to the book and the authors during her study at Teachers' College this past summer. Close reading is one of the new buzz words that came with the common core and we have been actively pursuing good information on the subject, so I, along with 30 other colleagues, quickly signed up. We've done lots of book studies over the years at Chets Creek and done them in all sorts of different ways with different leaders and configurations, so I was interested in how Melanie would choose to roll out this Book Study.
As usual, Melanie did not disappoint - using her natural insight and creativity, she decided to incorporate some of the lessons and strategies she had learned this summer into the book study. She also has kept in touch with the authors of the book through Twitter, so each week, Melanie LEADS the study with a short introduction, some time for the participants to talk about what they read, and an activity that helps teachers feel the engagement of a learner. When I can, I attend both the morning and afternoon sessions, although they are on the same topic - I guess I'm really a professional development junkie! However, the mix of the participants is difference and it never fails, that the emphasis is different because of the interests and engagement of each group. We've only studied the first two chapters and already I am hooked on this design for a book study. I can't wait to read each new chapter and to see how Melanie will help us look closer at our reading... and our lives. I'm sure this isn't easy for Melanie. It's not like this design was just laid out there and she's following some script. She really has to think deeply and creatively about how she can present the content to a group of adult learners who have such expertise and high expectations. She takes risks, the kind of risks that she is asking teachers to take. She teaches us the way that she expects us to teach our children.
I have attended so much professional development during my years as a teacher and much of it has honestly been VERY BAD. It is so refreshing to look forward to reading a chapter and to get up on the morning of the book study and hurry to make sure I'm not late so I won't miss a single minute. That is the same feeling I want in my students each morning that they come to class! The best part is that I leave the book study with a new insight and a smile on my face - invigorated and excited!