After Rochelle Lee Teacher Awardees complete their professional development in the summer, they still have opportunities to engage with other teachers and discuss literature. Program participants who have participated in the program more than one year participate in the Remaining Readers Book Club. Each year across the city, groups of 10-12 teachers all begin a discussion group reading the same book. This year’s October selection is “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren.
The purpose of Remaining Readers Book Club is to engage (or re-engage) teachers in reading throughout the year. First year awardees participate in Becoming Readers Institute and some applicants indicate the they haven’t had time to read a book for pleasure. Teachers have the opportunity to read and discuss a variety of books with a group of fellow awardees (or program alumni).
It may seem as though this is additional work that doesn’t help teachers in the classroom. While some teachers may be skeptical of the book clubs, which is part of the requirement for returning awardees, many teachers look forward to book clubs. Returning awardee Jeannette Thompson, a seventh and eighth grade teacher at Brentano said “It is essential that we share our reading life with our students. As a literacy teacher it is important to have my students see that I read and that I love reading. I try to bring my love for reading into my work by having authentic activities with reading.” Thompson who participates in a Becoming Readers group is also in another book club with friends.
Program alumnus Joris Soeding a teacher at Rogers Elementary identifies as a reader and said that the book club has helped him read genres that he normally wouldn’t read. “I find it important to share our reading life with students. It’s important to model reading and enthusiasm to our students. I also occasionally share novels and their great components from book club, usually during breakfast while my students are arriving into class.”
Thompson added “I also have book clubs in my classroom. We read a new novel every three weeks and we meet once a week to discuss what we have read. I do not do basal readers or worksheets. I try to make reading as authentic as possible. I also partake in the book clubs and I share my thoughts and views so that students can see that I love to read and have read the novel and I have thoughts as well that I want to share. I get excited with the students so they can see how reading should be.”
All Remaining Readers groups read the same book for the first session. This year’s selection, “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren is a memoir about a woman’s journey to become a geobiologist and what she discovers about herself and the world. Book club registration for awardees ends October 7, groups meet monthly October through May with a makeup session scheduled for June. Participants receive CPDUs for attending the sessions and are required to obtain their own book. Program alumni who are interested in joining a group are in luck, there are two alumni groups this year for former awardees – one meeting on the second Tuesdays at Women and Children First in Andersonville and another at Revolution Brewery on Kedzie. If you are interested in joining a group, please contact Daphne Robinson at DaphneR@witschicago.org. Spaces are limited.