Saturday, November 9, 2013

English Teachers: 5 Reasons to Start a Book Club

This year I wanted to have a club. My first instinct was to have a drama club. I think it would be so thrilling for students to act in a play, and perform it. Ideas like drama clubs is what is often missing from middle schools today. However, I did worry a little that taking on a large project like a drama club might be too much for a first year teacher.

So, I decided to go in a smaller direction, and begin a book club. Currently, we meet during lunch once a week in the media center. I have ten members, and we sit around one large table (family style) to eat and discuss our book. Right now, we are reading, Treasure Hunters, by James Patterson. Although they love the book, I think the students love the time together even more. They even asked if we could meet twice a week instead of only once.

This leads me to my own top five reasons to begin a book club today.

1. It's Relaxing: Having a book club is less stressful than you may think. It doesn't have to have a structured curriculum. Just find a book that you love and share it with your students. This is one time that you don't have to worry about the Common Core or differentiation. It's just about the enjoyment of a book with your students.

2. Developing Relationships: We spend the first ten minutes of our meal together talking about certain topics. It may be about their favorite genre or book series, but it also might be what they love about Thanksgiving. We discussed Thanksgiving and Christmas this week. The students told me about their favorite traditions and what these family gatherings mean to them. That was so great!

3. You Can Leave A Child Behind: This might seem a little mean, but one nice thing about a club is if a student stops coming for whatever reason, you don't have to let them back in. There are plenty of other students that would like the opportunity.

4. Make It What You Want: The word "club" can sound intimidating to a teacher. "Club" sounds like commitment and time. Two resources that are highly coveted by a teacher. But, a club doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. You have the power to put as little or as much into it as you want. Students won't really mind either way. They are just happy to be apart of something. As long as you are positive and energetic about it, they will be too.

5. Develops That "Sweet Spot": One of my mentor teachers that I had during my student teaching would often tell me the importance of defining a sweet spot in your day, that time you can just be there and enjoy your teaching. Well, honestly, I enjoy most of what I do as a teacher. However, the book club is that sweet spot for me in many ways. It is so nice to enjoy a meal together with my students, discuss elements of their lives, and connect with a book. As an English teacher, it doesn't get much sweeter than that!

So, if you've been wavering on whether or not to begin a book club, I would say jump in and go for it. You won't regret it!

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