A Good Recommendation Goes A Long Way

Yes...these are actually my freshly pedicured feet on my office floor.

Yes…these are actually my freshly pedicured feet on my office floor.

I had an absolutely wonderful day today!  I sent my boys to go farming with their dad and Papa, so I had the whole, blissfully quiet house to myself and my book.  I topped my day off by joining a dear friend for a much-needed summer pedicure.

And here I sit…about to connect teacher book talks in the classroom with pedicures.  Bear with me.

I had never had a pedicure until I was in my thirties.  It was a completely foreign experience for me, one that was never endorsed by my mother or my high school and university friends.  I knew little about it, other than some stranger would be touching and scraping and clipping my toes and feet.  Ew!  I had seen wonderful-looking results, yet the idea of trying it without really knowing how it would feel… no thanks.  No one recommended it, so why bother?

And then I met my husband’s cousin, Joanne.  Joanne loves her pedicures!  She told me that it was such a wonderful way to relax, that the massage was heavenly, that I could pick whatever paint colour I wanted.  Really?  I thought.  She said I’d never be the same, that I’d want to go for pedicures regularly because I would love it that much.

So, we booked a ‘buddy pedi’.  I took the wrong shoes (you’re supposed to take flip flops, a mistake I’ve only made twice) but was assured that they would supply me with a loaner pair.  Well, this is strange, I thought.  All this for a pedicure?  And I’ll tell you what: all it took was the comfortable atmosphere and the warm foot soak and the good company, and I was hooked!  I’ve had six absolutely amazing pedicures to date and have booked my seventh for the end of August.

Imagine never ever knowing that you could pick books to read that you’re interested in.  Too often in our classrooms, children are required to read grade-level materials that don’t meet their reading abilities.  They are given things to read instead of the option to choose what interests them.  And why would they?  It is often a foreign experience for students to choose interesting materials, let alone have someone guide them to find something of personal interest.  No one recommends books, so why bother?

Imagine being that person with a love for books to a child who is struggling to read.  You love books!  You tell your students it’s such a wonderful way to relax, that the pictures and words are heavenly, that they could pick whichever book they wanted.  Imagine them thinking, Really?  All this for a book?  You say they’ll never be the same, that they’ll want to read books regularly because they will love them that much.

That’s what it takes, for our struggling readers.  It takes the thoughtfulness and recommendations of a teacher to help students get past their disinterest and engaged in reading.  In What Really Matters in Response to Intervention: Research-Based Designs (Allington, 2009), Allington discusses “blessing books”.

“Blessing a book takes only a few seconds but it helps struggling readers especially find books that they might be interested in.  Every teacher, every day, should plan to bless three to five books across the school day.” (159)

He goes on to say that

“It is important to remember that success breeds success.  Ensuring that every struggling reader has easy access to interesting and appropriately difficult books will go a long way in fostering greater amounts of voluntary reading.” (159)

Just as my friend Joanne lead me to understand the bliss and wonder and joy of a pedicure, so it becomes our job as classroom teachers to help our students, especially our struggling readers, understand the bliss and wonder and joy of a good book.

The recommendation of a trusted, experienced friend can go a long way.

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