Monday, October 2, 2017

I came here to read, not to lead...

My required reading list is getting a little too lengthy.

Teachers always have reading they’re supposed to do.  I’m sure there are other occupations that have the same problem, though what those occupations are simply won’t come to mind right now.  President of the United States?  That sounds about right.

I have a huge stack of books next to my bed that I need to get to in order to be a better teacher.  Some of them are potential textbooks, some of them are instruction manuals for teachers who are working through a certain subject (Grammar of the Greats, anyone?) or just general sort of self-help texts for those of us struggling in an area or hoping to get new teaching techniques to use.  I know I need to read these, so the best thing I can do is start like I’m eating an elephant, and hope I remember/make notes/incorporate what I need to, while not choking as I read over my food.

The other list is the books I should be reading so that I can study them with my classes.  Curriculum lists change every year, so if you think that there are just certain books that will stay on the list and I should make sure I read them, you are dead, DEAD wrong.  That ain’t how it works.

For example, this year I had The Hunger Games on my curriculum list.  I breathed a sigh of relief that I’d already read the entire series before I became overwhelmed with the amount of reading I need to do.  But sometimes I don’t get so lucky.  The year that Bartleby the Scrivener and The Poisonwood Bible showed up had me reading fast and furiously, hoping to stay at least a week ahead of the students.  I don’t want to repeat that year again, or, I should say, I'd prefer not to. 

The fact is, the better read a teacher is, the more he or she can use to help in literature lessons overall with similar storylines, descriptions, and characters.  But the other fact is that there are only so many hours in the day, and reading constantly for knowledge or work gets exhausting.  And when I get exhausted, I just watch animal GIFs, even though I’m not particularly an animal lover.

Some people say, “Try audiobooks!  Then you can listen to them in the car!”  I’ve tried it, and I’ve found that I hate audiobooks, unless they're nonfiction and read in the same voice.  Fiction books where the reader tries to differentiate the voices annoy me.  I’d rather read than be read to.  Plus I can’t skip all the boring description in an audiobook.  That's how I got through Frankenstein so quickly.

I have found a lot of favorites as I plug away at my list.  Death of a Salesman became a fave after I had it done, and re-reading Fahrenheit 451 years after I was a teenager gave me a new appreciation for it.  But some don't improve upon re-reading, or I just never like them at all.  The Scarlet Letter now only makes me despise Reverend Dimmesdale, and 1984 did not make a fan out of me. 

So, I’ll continue to slog through my reading list, hoping to have Richard III and Catcher in the Rye finished before they pop up on the list for the semester.  I’m already skipping most of the descriptions.