“Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read?”

My question is why would you become a teacher of literacy if you didn’t love to read? It’s impossible to be an effective teacher if you’re teaching something you’re not interested in. Reflecting on past teachers of mine, it is clear which teachers were passionate about the subjects they taught, and which didn’t really feel strongly about it. I think this is especially true of reading. On page 288 of “Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read?” Ann Powell-Brown states that “teachers who have a passion for reading are role models and literacy spark plugs for students,” and I couldn’t agree more. If you are excited about a book, or reading, it begins to spread to the students. At my school, we did a literacy block and my group read City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Most of the students in my group were below grade level readers and unmotivated; however, once we started reading the book and they saw how excited I was to continue reading, my students started coming in eager to continue reading. Like Powell-Brown I was fortunate to come from a literate household. My parents read to us when we were younger, my dad even recording stories on tape for us to “read” with him while he was away on his six month Navy leave. It is obvious that many of the students I teach aren’t as fortunate to have the home literacy I grew up with, but I try to do everything in my power at school to motivate them.
I do think that a teacher can teach a subject, whether it is science or reading, but if the passion for that subject, let alone teaching, is missing, they might as well hire a robot to teach that subject. It would have the same effect. Actually, a teacher who isn’t passionate about reading might harm students’ opinions towards reading. The young mind is impressionable and it is extremely important that we as educators are aware of our actions around our students. In “The Peter Effect” article by Applegate and Applegate, they found that their “data suggest that early negative reading experiences can have long-lasting, harmful effects on children” (561). We have to be willing to step outside of our boxes and as Powell-Brown says, “fake it ‘til you make it” (p. 286). Kimberly Gomez discusses a similar insight in her article, ”Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self,” about the importance of creating a “new personal literate self” (p. 95) if you’re a not an avid reader but recognize the importance of reading. Gomez explains in response to Powell-Brown that many student teachers decide to become reading teachers, even if they don’t enjoy reading, because they want to find a way to become a reader.
Although I was able to relate to all of the articles, I felt the most connected to the Applegate and Applegate article on The Peter Effect. Partly because I feel I fit the “aesthetic reader” (p. 554) who lives vicariously through the characters in the stories. One of my favorite reasons to read is to get lost in a book, or another word, and I long to be able to share that with all my students. With middle school students, the intrinsic motivation is lost because the extrinsic motivation (mainly social influence) has become over powering. I feel these students may be the hardest to reach when it comes to reading. However, teachers at any level need to have and exhibit a positive attitude toward reading, not only for themselves, but also to be effect teachers in the classroom.

 

References:
Applegate, A., & Applegate, M. (2004). The peter effect: Reading habits and attitudes of pre-service teachers. International Reading Association, 57(6(, 554-563.
Gomez , K. (2005). Teachers of literacy, love of reading, and the literate self, a response to Ann Powell-Brown. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 49(2), 92-96.
Powell-Brown, A. (2003). Can you be a teacher of literacy if you don’t love to read? Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 47(4), 284-288.

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