Monday, May 3, 2010

Unintentional Results Are Awesome

I have really enjoyed Karen's posts on her teaching, and knowing how awesome she is in the classroom, it's been a treat for me to really get inside of her thinking to see how she pulls it all together. I've enjoyed all of your comments, especially those dealing with teaching with intention and purpose.

However, in my three years in the library, I feel like I notice the unintentional moments more, I'm not sure why that is, but it seems that they happen more often then I remember in the classroom.

For example, when I started in the library I decided to do read aloud everyday with every class that has come through the library. I also decided to only read things that could be finished while the kids were in the library, no carry over from week to week. Here comes the part that provided an unintentional result, I chose to read the same book for grades 1 through 5. I wish I could give some solid educational rationale behind this, but I can't, my reason for doing this was to make it easier to keep track of what I was reading, nothing more than convenience to me, took the kids right out of my decision.

What ended up happening is that a reading community was built. Every kid at Bailey Elementary had something in common and I actually heard book conversations going on between first and fifth graders! I got emails from parents talking about dinner table conversations about the book that had been shared in THE PIT that week. Of course I played it off like some great plan based on sound educational practice, but it was all born of keeping things simple for me...who knew!?

The Grand Discussions I've hosted with my friend and colleague Joyce for the last 4 years have been filled with unintentional results. They have opened numerous avenues for parent and child conversations about important growing up topics like bullying, self esteem, world awareness to name a few. And of course this year the with the starting of Coins 4 Kids, a result of our Grand Discussion of Also Known as Harper, our fifth graders raised $780.00 to buy books for the library at my sister's school. Joyce and I never meant for that to happen but we're sure glad it did.

The books have always been my focus in the library, this year I branched out into a little more tech stuff, and plan to do more in the future, but because of my passion for books, I have kids recommending titles to me and their friends every day. I have also noticed lately, that the incredible volunteers that work in our library every day are having book talks about what they are reading while they shelve the books. My awesome aid Yvonne, a voracious reader, many times is involved, quite often starting these discussions, sharing titles and thoughts about the books her book club is reading.

So today I'm celebrating the awesome unintentional result that has occurred in the library in three years, a community of readers from our youngest in pre k to our parent volunteers. I love going into work every day, just waiting to see what happens next!


  1. You said it very well-it starts with a librarian who cares about kids and loves books! We are very lucky at BES-you're correct it does create a culture of students who talk about books and that spills into our classrooms! During teacher appreciation week, thanks Bill!!

  2. I love that you read the same book K-5. An important role in a librarian's life is to promote a reading community. You are right, the unintentional creates many positive outcomes. I sometimes find the unintentional feeds my soul, enjoy and celebrate yours.

  3. I agree, Bill. I love being intentional, and what a bonus it is when what I EXPECT actually results from my intention. Even more fun, though, is keeping my eyes (or ears) open for the surprises that come from the unplanned moments (or unplanned results that occur despite my best intentions)!!

  4. I did a read aloud for my SSR classes, but now I am afraid. I chose the chapter from Knucklehead where the cat throws up in the car, and guess what my son did on our way back from Shawnee State Park. And I was sitting right next to him. With the dog on my lap. Sigh.

  5. What a great way to put it: awesome unintentional results! It's what makes my teaching day so rewarding - the planned "results" are all well and good, but the unintentional ones are truly magical. I think the read aloud (the cornerstone of both my language arts as well as social studies classes) opens so many wonderful possibilities.

  6. As I finish my 21st year teaching, I realize that the unintentional results, are the most exciting! They are what makes each day unique and why I love my job!

  7. How true!
    I am a school librarian--grades 3-5 and would love a list of the books that you have read to your kids.