I’ve never been a big fan of setting annual goals, most likely because i am generally goal-driven in what I do anyways. This year, though, is different; in a strange sequence of events, I set a goal to achieve throughout 2021.
I have noticed that, in the past few years, I have been reading less and less. I read a lot during the summer and on holidays but, during the school year, it seems like an impossible task. Sure, I read news articles and magazines but it is always a real challenge to find time to sit down and read an actual book. I know I need to read more; I know how important it is for me. As I tell my kids at school, there is no substitute for reading a novel, for being able to follow plot and character development from beginning to end, and for being able to focus on what you are reading for more than 20 minutes.
This fall, I assigned a reading challenge to my Grade 7’s. They had to read 20, 30, or 40 pieces of literature in a six week period. Some were short (e.g. fairy tales, picture books), some were longer (e.g. magazine articles or informational texts) and, then, there were novels, the category that a lot of kids shy away from because they take so much more time to read. Like the kids I teach, I often avoid novels because I just don’t have the time.
Six weeks later, my students were done and most met their challenge. Yes, within six weeks, twenty-one 12 year olds read 20 – 40 types of literature. “If they can do it, so can I!” I told myself. That’s when I made my decision; I set the goal of reading one book, a real book, every two weeks in 2021. I was inspired by a bunch of kids! (Take a look at the model that one student made of the settings in the books he read.)
The goal was set: read one book every two weeks throughout 2021. I was a little nervous about whether I could really do this and needed to find a way to hold myself accountable. Well, as luck would have it, I found that in my Grade 8 class in December, when they were setting their own goals to achieve before the end of the school year. While I was working with one student, she said, “I think I need to read more.” “That is a great goal!” I replied, and I told her about mine. It wasn’t long before a few other Grade 8’s set a similar goal and word about mine travelled back to my Grade 7’s (You’ve got to love the grapevine). One emailed me: “I think that is a great goal for yourself…..Enjoy your reading!” Not only was I inspired by my Grade 7’s, I was now being encouraged by them.
So now I have my goal, my motivation and my support crew. My tracker is coming. I am reading (I finished “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” over the holidays and am almost done with “The Marrow Thieves”, a school book that I borrowed from my son) and I am happy about reading, but I am also grateful that I don’t have an assignment to do when I finish!