The number of student suspensions for the 2016-2017 school year at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Md., as well as the number of student suspensions at the school for the 2015-2016 school year, is zero. This downward trend began when the elementary school incorporated a focus on meditation into its day-to-day routine. Instead of being punished for disruptions or misbehavior, students are sent to the “Mindful Moment Room” where they meditate and do breathing exercises.
As a teacher, I tend to change the channel or radio station when the news turns to issues related to schooling and education. It is difficult to listen to people discuss aspects of my daily experience as if they were a part of it. When a news story involves an act of violence in a school or a natural disaster wreaking devastation on children and school employees, I am almost less likely to listen. It is too painful to think about what that would be like for me, my colleagues, and most importantly, my students.
When major news networks began playing a recording of suburban Atlanta school employee Antoinette Tuff’s 911 call reporting a shooter in her school’s building on Tuesday, I almost turned off the TV. Then, I heard Tuff’s calm voice interacting with the shooter as though as he was any distraught child in the office needing extra attention. I started to listen.
Many boys at my school struggle with reading. Most are more interested in video games and outdoor activities than books. Our school is not an anomaly.
Across the country adults have grappled with the lag in boys’ reading interest and skills. According to the 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report sponsored by Scholastic, fewer than 40 percent of boys said that reading outside the classroom is important.
So when my school’s coordinator asked me to start a lunchtime reading group to get boys interested in reading, I was excited. The first fourth-grade literary lunch would be called BEREAders (Berea Readers).
I am excited about reading.