I started thinking about something today while I was sitting in my room during my prep hour. My prep is the hour before my lunch, so sometimes I grab my lunch early and sit in my room and enjoy reading a book while I eat. (I know, I know, I'm lucky to not have the typical 20 minutes to shovel something down that is built into some teachers' schedules!) But sometimes I feel like I'm not using my prep hour as efficiently as I could be.
You see, for my prep today, I sat and read a book in my classroom. It was not because I didn't have any other work that needed to be done. I had ended at a really good/suspenseful part when our independent daily reading time ended in the previous class period, and I was anxious to know what would happen next.
But all of a sudden a thought occurred to me: What if someone were to walk by? How would they interpret what they see? And I started to feel guilty for not doing paperwork and grading stuff during my prep time.
But then I called myself out on it. Why?? Reading IS a huge part of my job! I am a middle school language arts teacher, and if I have any chance of getting my 7th and 8th graders to read, I better be doing A LOT of reading myself.
If I am doing my job well, I am using every occasion I can to model readerly habits, to show my excitement about books, to share book recommendations, to encourage reading during and outside of class, to build a culture of literacy beyond my classroom walls, and to know books that will hook my students. I can't teach reading well if I am not reading myself.
So that means reading. Often. A lot. As much as I can. And quite frankly, sometimes that break in the day is what I need to go into the afternoon with a good mindset. I had no reason to feel guilty. The paperwork can wait until after school when the kids aren't around - I'd rather they walk by my classroom and see me reading a book that they might want to read next.