Bored and confused they look up at me, their eyes begging me to stop. We’ve been repeating the same seven “S” words over and over for the past 15 minutes. I’ve broken down the syllables, reconstructed them, repeated them in order, out of order. I had all the girls stand up and repeat, while the boys sat happy they didn’t have to do anything for a moment—then had the boys stand, then had all over them stand. I get it, nothing can make repeating words you don’t understand interesting. Not even a goofy white girl making faces, doing motions—it’s boring. I know.
I have my reasons for these “S” words—not just because I love the letter and enjoy alliteration (Silly Sloan stands in front of class snickering stupid secrets.) I want them to read the words so that when I read them the “S” book they get it. 20 minutes into class I pull a storybook out of my book bag. They smile, they’ve forgotten all the boringness I just put them through and the 33 eight-year-olds grin so hard their faces may stay that way. They stare at me, waiting with excitement. (The students stare at Sloan as she starts the storytelling.)
I love reading to kids. Even to kids who don’t speak the language that I’m reading, they all have the same awestruck reaction to pictures, words, the cadence of the teacher’s voice. They forget about the worksheet they were working on and they listen, they unconsciously repeat the words they just learned (yes! It worked!). I imagine them doing what I did when I was kid; making up definitions for words I didn’t understand, giving characters names, wondering how on earth the teacher is reading upside down or without looking at the book! I now get how my first grade teacher did it, I can now read upside down, I can read with out looking at the pages.
Story books, story telling, being so absorbed in what someone is saying is an amazing feeling. Being on the receiving end is magical, but I am enjoying giving this to the students; I feels as though I’m blasting them away from the hot classroom, away from the teachers that yell too much and we’re in our own world of story time.