Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Natasha Carty. Natasha was a children’s librarian in Connecticut and Maryland for over 10 years. She became a teacher 6 years ago and feels it has been the most wonderful, difficult, challenging, rewarding experience. This year she became a Nationally Board Certified Teacher candidate. It was a difficult process but made her a better teacher. She teaches at a Montessori charter school and loves the Montessori method of teaching. Students learn to become self-directed learners. This year she plans to keep striving to become a better teacher and finish more knitting projects than she starts.
I was a children’s librarian for over ten years. I have always loved the library. When I was growing up,we always went to all the libraries in our vicinity and each member of my family checked out a stack of books. Consequently, we always owed library fines at each library. I was an anthropology major in college and when I graduated, I needed to find a job. I found my place in the library. When I got my first library job, I was excited, although I didn’t know what to do with myself as I stood in a big room lined with shelves of children’s books, a beautiful mural of Alice in Wonderland but no children. The source I turned to was a book belonging to my mother, an elementary teacher. It was Caroline Feller Bauer’s This Way to Books. I still turn to this amazing resource which has wonderful ways to connect children with books and poetry.
As a children’s librarian, I wore many hats. I did baby story time. My co-workers told me I was quite a sight doing the hokey pokey while 8 months pregnant. I did pre-school storytimes, books and crafts for elementary students, young adult groups. My modus operandi was to announce that I was doing a program, then figure out how to do it. This may not work for some but it took me out of my comfort zone and I did some amazing programs: mystery parties for teens, shadow puppet programs, an anime club. When I was home with my daughter as a stay-at-home mom, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher, like my mother, father and sister. I guess it was in the blood. While I was student teaching, we had a reading program with a textbook. When I got a job at a Montessori charter school, we didn’t have a reading program so I consulted many books to develop a method to support reading instruction. One book that was a great help me when selecting books to read to the class was Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook. I have older editions and I used to look at his website to find new ideas. Luckily, his 7th edition was just released last year.
Another book that was very helpful was Regie Routman’s Reading Essentials. She also has a helpful book on writing called Writing Essentials. I hope to someday hear her speak or attend one of her workshops. When people ask how I help students learn to read I have several answers. I have a large and amazing classroom library with books at different reading levels and on all sorts subjects to capture student interest. I make the library inviting with small chairs and pillows.
One of the biggest things which seems so simple is I make sure students do a lot of reading throughout the day. Students book talk their favorite books. I also have lots of sets of books for literature circles. This year I did research on how to better support developing and struggling readers and I have improved my guided reading groups. I loved being a children’s librarian, but also love teaching because it is such a challenge to figure out how to reach students and I am always working on becoming a better teacher.
s I’ve had to pay!)