Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inspired by Mr. Hankins

Last night as I went to bed I saw tweets flying between Donalyn Miller and Paul Hankins. Great topics – knowing our readers, the issues with Lexile levels and scripted programs, the importance of background knowledge, etc. I wanted so badly to join in but exhaustion won and I dropped off.

This morning I woke up and saw THIS BLOG from Mr. Hankins. Go on, go read, please come back.

Brilliant, right? At first I was reminded of Travis Jonker’s hilarious poll awhile back on the battle of the bad bookmarks.

And then, as I read the beginning, I kept glancing at the table in front of me and smiling. These two books stared back at me:
Beauty Queens w/ post-its for book marks and a sweet post-it from Liam.
Opening Minds has a pen holding my spot and is itself a bookmark for my writing notebook.

Opening Minds is marked up with all of my thoughts as I read. 

But then, as he often does, Paul moved even deeper. Thinking of ourselves as bookmarks, yes! I mean this paragraph right here….

“But I want to think about how WE are the living book marks within our learning communities and our schools. WE shape the reading culture. There are other book marks–like lexiles and reading management-approved title indicators that want and wish they had what it took to create a sense of lifelong reading in the students that one passionate reader adviser and reading friend does.”

I read that and seriously gasped. It’s like Paul cracked my head wide open and read my brain, but things I didn’t even realize I was thinking. We shape the reading culture. I know that is what I’m trying to do, I hope I accomplish it.

I often go back to the story a former principal would share when we felt overwhelmed. I’m sure you’ve heard it.

A man was walking along the beach and throwing the starfish back in the ocean. When a stranger asks what he’s doing he replies he is trying to save the starfish. The stranger glances at the beach littered with starfish and asks how it matters, he can’t save them all. The man throws a starfish back in and says, “It mattered to that one.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to matter to every single kid. To have every child come out of my class better than when they entered it. To have every student become an avid reader. I’m sure that isn’t what happens, but I hope I come close. I hope that I am a living bookmark for my students. I hope I inspire them like my friend Mr. Hankins inspired me. Thanks, Paul.