professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Who are you? Who who who who?

Years ago when I was a middle school teacher ELAR teacher, one school year opened with a getting acquainted game in which we asked our partner the same question multiple times: Who are you? Each response had to reveal some other facet of our person.

I am Teri
I am married
I have grown children
I have 6 grandkids

Gradually, the answers moved from a more exterior view to a more interior one

I am a reader
I am a writer

I wonder if we asked this same question repeatedly to students what the outcome might be? How many of them would arrive at the I am a reader or I am a writer statements?

This has to do, of course, with identity. Each time I do professional development, I ask how many in the room are readers and writers. I expect to see each and every hand wave in the air. Sadly, this is not always the case. Not all educators self identify as readers and writers. How much more difficult it must be for our students, right?

I AM a reader. I read most days. But when I am in a time crunch or a slump, I am still a reader. When all I can manage is my email and Twitter feed, I am reading. When a day is so packed that all I fit in is part of an audio book on the way home, I am a reader. As I send and receive texts and Voxer messages, I am a reader and a writer. As I blog, I am a writer. As I read other blogs, I am a reader. I also read street signs, directions, menus, etc.

Perhaps if we share more and more of this with our students they, too, will see that they are readers and writers? Yesterday Donalyn Miller and I talked about "our reading lives" by identifying books from our childhood, tweens, teens, and adult lives. This reading autobiography simply reinforces for us and for the educators in attendance that reading is part and parcel of who we are. We asked the educators to jot down strong memories and share them with one another. The buzz was electric; so was the laughter and whoops of recognition. Connections were made. Community, however brief, was formed.

Imagine a classroom where this occurs, where stories about books and reading are shared. Imagine learning about your teacher and her or his predilections when it comes to reading. Imagine seeing one of your teacher's favorite books from childhood is also one of yours. Imagine beginning to see yourself as a reader.
Tags: identity
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