So, yesterday, I’m standing up in front of a Year 10 class, waxing lyrical as I do, when one of the students chimes in with, “You know that book you gave me last time, Miss? Well, it was really good. I finished it in 3 days.” “That’s great,” I reply. “Have you returned it today?” “Yes, Miss. It’s in the chute thingy.”
So I go and get it out of the chute thingy, and ask the student if he can give the group a run-down of the plot, unless it will be too spoilery. And he thinks it will be too spoilery, so he just says, “It was really, really good, Miss”. The book is a little over 300 pages – it’s Bruiser – and I say out loud that this boy has read 100 pages a day – “So it must be a really good book.”
One of the other boys asks to read it. I admit it, I’m a bit disappointed that he’s got it, because last time this class was in the library, two weeks ago, I had to reprimand him for talking and interrupting other students when the focus is all on reading in a sustained way in preparation for VCE. At the end of the lesson he was the last to leave, so we had a bit of a chat about his focus, and what he wants to do with his life, and he’s pretty honest. He has no idea. And I agree that focus is hard when you don’t know where you want to go. And that’s that.
So we settled down to reading, and this week the class is on fire. They are reading their heads off. It’s all quiet, and everyone is giving their books a chance to speak to them. The 45 mins passes really quickly (I’m reading Alex as Well – must read!) and it’s time to borrow.
I suggest that the students need to borrow their books as we have had a few books get snitched out from under noses because the kids won’t borrow them (!) and then I notice that Bruiser boy is walking towards the exit with the book. I ask him, “Are you going to borrow that?” And I hope my surprise isn’t showing on my face when he replies, “You know what, Miss. I think I will borrow it. I’m really enjoying it.” I act really cool, and just say, “Great”, but inside I am doing a happy dance and my heart is singing, because a boy who has resisted and avoided and downright refused to read for the last three years is BORROWING A BOOK!
And this is my question – how in the hell do I quantify this? It has taken three years, with new suggestions of great books given every week, for this young man to borrow one book. His English teachers and I have despaired of this moment ever happening. It sounds small, and in some respects that’s true. But really it’s a triumph. It’s a win. It’s a bloody miracle.
And I’ve worked really hard to provide great books, to work with the teachers and kids, to read widely and enthusiastically, but how do you quantify this when you are trying to show Senior Management that what you do all day, every day, is important. I can’t test it, or examine it. I can’t count it or test it.
But this moment is an A+ moment. And there is no way to measure it other than to share it as a story.