My NQT year – twenty years ago.
Me: Your year 4 class love reading!
Teacher: I know. My classes always love reading.
Me: How come?
Teacher: They just read after lunch everyday.
Me: I do that too with my class.
Teacher: No you don’t. You look at a text with different groups and ask them lots of questions.
Me: But isn’t that good teaching?
Teacher: Depends. That might help them confidently pass a reading test but it won’t inspire them to read.
Me: But I was told that silent reading isn’t enough. Maybe on a Friday for a bit if no one is looking.
Teacher: How many children read at home? Honestly? How many parents read in front of their children? How many books are in the household? When is a child inspired to read?
Me: But I would feel bad just letting children read their own book every day.
Teacher: Really? Thirty minutes a day – in silence – with a book. That’s 2.5 hours a week they have interrupted and quiet time to get lost in a book. Why do you feel bad?
Me: What are they learning though?
Teacher: Experience. To know what it feels like to want to read that book again and again. To build stamina and perseverance. To have an opportunity to read every day. To escape from the stresses and strains of every day life for a bit. I don’t really know but it works.
Me: But how do your children do in reading tests?
Teacher: Really well. It works, I don’t know exactly but their love of reading definitely comes from being allowed to read every day. I listen to them read too.
Me: It’s that easy?
Me: I’m going to do that then!
I did this everyday for several years. It worked! But then I was told I had to teach reading in small groups and ask lots of questions about every page. I had to start collecting evidence. It wasn’t the same. Shame.