Slice of Life: A Meeting With Experts


I have a couple of speaking engagements next month. Speaking in front of people is something that terrifies me. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy it, but it is something that I’m not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable doing. Whenever I speak in front of a group about what goes on in my classroom, I try very hard to make it as much about the kids and as little about me as possible.

To prepare for next month’s presentations I drove to Battle Creek and spent the morning with two of my former students. I really wanted to meet with former students to see if what we did in our classroom is helping them now that they’re in a new classroom, and I wanted to know what really stuck with them from our time together.

The morning was amazing. They were so excited to tell me all about how they are doing in the middle school and what books they are loving. They aren’t thrilled with everything happening in their fifth grade classroom, but overall it sounded like they are both having an excellent year. It was neat to hear how the students from my fourth grade classroom are looked at as book experts when they enter fifth grade. My students are the ones to go to for book recommendations. I take a lot of pride in that.

After hours of chatting and reflecting on our year together, my former students came up with four things that they felt are most important for getting kids excited about reading in a classroom. I’m going to plan my presentations around these four things. They are: book talks, book trailers, read alouds, and a great classroom library. I’m not going to lie, I was super excited to hear that these were the things that my students remember and loved about our classroom. Hearing them talk helped me to remember how important it is that we surround our students with mountains of books, and within our little reading valley we constantly talk about the books we love.

I can’t wait to share more during my presentations. I’m still nervous, but knowing that I’ll be bringing all of the readers that I’ve ever taught with me, makes me feel much much better.


16 thoughts on “Slice of Life: A Meeting With Experts

  1. Kids are the best learners for young learners to learn from -I always tell my classes they will learn as much from each other as they do from me…. maybe more!
    Good luck in your presentation…. there are lots of calming strategies and visualisations you could try if you really are a bag of nerves….


  2. Good luck with your speaking engagements! Public speaking is tough for me also, but you’ve got a great topic with plenty to inspire folks. So neat that you got to meet with your former students~ sounds like they retained quite a bit and are sharing their knowledge/love of books!


  3. It’s wonderful to went to the kids/former students for your guide, Colby. And what a nice thing to discover as a teacher, that those values so important to you are still there inside the students who’ve moved to another classroom. I know your presentations will be heartfelt because they come from the students.


  4. Good luck on the presentations! I completely agree about building up classroom libraries, not just a general school library. The immediacy of these books is so impactful. Last year I began co-chairing my daughters’ elementary school visiting author program and pushed to have the PTA buy more books for classroom libraries with each visit. Teachers report these books go into heavy circulation in the wonderful ripple effect after an author visit, reaching even reluctant readers. Yay!


  5. They must love the feeling of being a book expert–it’s always nice to feel like you’ve got a special skill or the inside scoop! I’ll bet that feeling encourages them to continue their reading and stay ahead in the book department, which of course will serve them well through the years ahead. Bravo doing great work with them, and good luck with your presentation!


  6. I’m sure your speaking engagement will go well. It is always nice to hear from former students that what we did in our classrooms really did make a difference in someone’s lives. Why is it that teachers tend to doubt themselves? I know that I did the same things for years.


  7. Good luck on your presentation! How wonderful to know that your former students cherished those parts of your classroom. What more could you ask for? You taught them to love reading. Wonderful.


  8. Colby – You will be great. You have such passion and real life experience to share. I love that your students are seen as book experts and also that classroom libraries are important. Congratulations on all of this.


  9. Setting these students up for success is one of the best results of reading at the core of your classroom. They are now experts! Love that you carry them with you to share your expertise with others.


  10. To me nothing matters more than what our kids take away from their time with us. It’s great when they’re here – but does it stick? Does it grow? That’s what we should all be asking ourselves. You did and what great answers you received! So great!!


  11. I love that you called this post “talking with experts.” Too many people like to talk about what’s good for kids rather than listening to them.


  12. You have every reason to feel proud about what you accomplished with these kids, and I love that it’s all about BOOKS!!! 😀 😀 😀 Good luck with your presentations, Colby 🙂


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