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One of my favorite teachers of all time wasn’t my teacher—at least not officially. His name was Teacher Tom, and he was my children’s preschool teacher. Somehow, Teacher Tom was consistently able to engage a classroom full of rambunctious three and four-year-olds in rich, meaningful, and conflict-free learning and play. They took turns, they cleaned up their messes, and even the shy, tentative children were relaxed and confident in his classroom. How did he do it? The other preschool parents and I wondered if he might have superpowers.

The new school year is quickly approaching. Soon the building will be flooded with students both familiar and new. They’ll look taller and their cheeks will be sun-kissed. Some will be apprehensive; some will be raring to go. To ensure a smooth start for all of your students—and, most especially, for you—advance preparations to your classroom and curricula are essential.

The two most important factors in a successful read-aloud are a great book selection and a great delivery. When these two factors are present, it feels like magic. The room becomes still. All eyes are on the reader. The crowd collectively furrows at the worrisome parts of the story and roars with laughter at the funny parts. When good stories are read aloud, they can instantly lift up, teach, and unite diverse groups of people. Few things in life are so simple, yet so powerful.

On airplanes, they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. You’re only able to help another person if you have enough air for yourself. This advice can be applied metaphorically to any situation in life—and it’s the kind of advice that is especially difficult for teachers to follow. Teachers are the ultimate helpers. Without hesitation, they’ll set aside their own needs to help a student or colleague in need. So how do they avoid running out of oxygen? For many teachers, the answer is S-U-M-M-E-R.

How do you think your students are doing on their summer reading lists so far? It’s fun to imagine them leaned up against a shady tree with a good classic, isn’t it? (A teacher can dream!) Wouldn’t you love that kind of lazy day? Who’s to say you can’t have one—or several? Summer reading is important for teachers too. And usually, after a busy school year, it’s quite a treat.

Plenty of research confirms that schools with positive climates, in which the students have strong social-emotional skills, are ideal learning environments. Teachers and parents don’t need research to believe this—it’s common sense that when people are shown kindness as opposed to hostility, they’re far more apt to succeed in school and beyond.

Teachers make countless contributions to their schools—and most do so on a shoestring budget. Thankfully, there are thousands of grants available to educators to help offset the cost of new curricula, resources, programs, and more.

Though we’ve had a very good year, I have some ideas for making things even better next year. (Don’t all of us teachers begin to think of next year even before the current year ends?)

If your students’ parents are anything like me, they’re currently trying to figure out how to avoid a summer full of that dreaded declaration: “I’m bored!” Some parents intend to sign their children up for ALL THE THINGS in order to eliminate the possibility of boredom altogether. Is this a good idea?

Rachel is a slow keyboarder who needs additional time to type her predictions and retells. Timothy is an ELL student who will benefit most from one read along in Spanish and three in English. James is an older student who needs just one read along and who wants to finish the story each time he practices. Anna is struggling with phonics and needs 75 seconds, as opposed to one minute, for word list timings. Can Read Live accommodate all of these students’ unique needs?

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

pointer Submit a Star-of-the-Month entry

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