But once the text is selected, teachers often miss a critical step in the process: engaging in the text as an adult reader. We often jump right into putting the text in the hands of the students and start writing text-based questions. However, we have found that taking a moment to suspend all thoughts of TEACHING the text actually allows you to engage with the text at a much more deep and authentic level, which, in turn, leads to better teaching.
A few days ago, we participated in an “adult read” of a text with a group of teacher leaders. The text was Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie. Our task was to forget for a few minutes that we were teachers, and spend some time having an authentic, adult experience with the text. First, the text was read aloud. We were allowed to mark or annotate any way we liked. Then, we were given time to read silently and continue annotating.
Following the reading process, we participated in an open discussion about the text: what did we find interesting, what jumped out at us, etc., but there was to be no discussion about teaching the text. The discussion that followed was so rich and challenged us to think about the text in ways we never would have if left to our own individual reading.
We kept reflecting on these two ideas: “How did engaging in the text as an adult reader change the way you understood the text? How does it change your approach to teaching the text going forward?” The answer was clear. From there, we were able to craft much more thoughtful culminating tasks and text-based questions for scaffolding. How often do we really take the time to authentically engage with the text we give students? How much better could our lessons, class discussions, and questions be if we gave ourselves time to step back from the teacher role and just be readers?
Jaime and Derek