when i grow up

First thing this morning  I was talking with seven 8th graders about reading. We were waiting to begin our state testing, because of late buses.  “Teachers just make us read books they want us to read. None of them are ever good,” one student said.

She was quickly supported by other students. In the middle of the room sat a boy with a Christopher Paolini book. “Hunter’s a reader,” I said.

He nodded.

“I remember the year you became a reader. Third grade, right?”

He nodded again.

“How?!?” the girl next to him blurted. I smiled at her shock that someone could actually become a reader.

“Mrs. Bean.” A single name was a complete answer for him.

“Everyone becomes a reader if they are in Mrs. Bean’s class,” I said.

“A teacher turned you into a reader?” The girl was still stunned.

“Yes,” Hunter said.

“What’d she do?” asked another student.

Hunter shrugged. Just when I thought he wasn’t going to answer he said, “She helped you find books you wanted to read and she didn’t let you waste time with a bad book. Everyone had book stacks on their desks and she talked to us about our reading. I mean, she taught me there’s good books out there and how to read so they made sense.”

“If there’s a book you want to read and you’re in Mrs. Bean’s class she gets it for you,” I added.

“You could keep it too, if you asked.” Hunter said.

“Huh. You mean she didn’t make you read stupid stuff?” She was flabbergasted.

“Nah,” Hunter said. He thumbed the pages of his thick book. “I mean she read books to us, but they were always good. Then after a book we’d do something fun, like dress up or something.”

“You know, that was five years ago,” I said. “Yet you still like reading now. How come?”

Hunter looked at me. “Once you know there’s good books out there, you just want more.”

You won’t meet a better teacher than Mrs. Bean. She loves books, but she loves her students more. In fact, she loves them so much that she works until they love books too. Then she teaches them to read so the books they love make sense. And it’s instruction that lasts. It’s not just reading for school, but reading for life. Her students grow up and they want to read more. This is just one of the many reasons I want to be like Mrs. Bean when I grow up.

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24 Comments »

  1. Hunter looked at me. “Once you know there's good books out there, you just want more.”
    Hunter has it right…you only need one Mrs. Bean in your life, the earlier the better. I, too, want to be Mrs. Bean…starting tomorrow.

  2. “Once you know there's good books out there, you just want more.” (LOL, I just looked up and saw Tara and Bonnie loved that line too). I hope I am inspiring a few Hunter's of my own.

  3. “…she works until they love books (writing) too.” – the best kind of a mission statement for a teacher. Everything else will fall in place.

  4. Every child deserves to have at least one Mrs. Bean. I loved the dialogue here. I felt like I was sitting in on the discussion. What a brave guy to share with others. It's not easy to be an 8th grader.

  5. That was so wonderful! To know how it happened…
    How sad for the rest who still think that there are no books out there that are good. They evidently didn't even read one by accident. Sad. But I'm happy for Mrs. Bean's kids!

  6. So cool that Hunter could shine in this moment. I'm quite jealous of how you always seem to know the perfect questions to ask. You'll have to teach me someday.

  7. Oh if we all had Mrs. Bean! What a role model!
    One line stood out for me (altho the whole post did!) :
    “It's not just reading for school, but reading for life”
    Love this post!

  8. Love this, “that someone could actually become a reader.” I want to be Mrs. Bean. I think we all hope we can have that kind of impact on the lives of our students.

  9. I had the privilege of not only seeing Mrs. Bean in action, but also calling her friend. She is an amazing teacher & raised the standards for everyone.

  10. The greatest success you can have as a teacher is watching a kid who struggled at or resisted reading turn on to it and end up being a lifelong reader. Talk about filling your heart with joy and pride!

  11. Who doesn't want to be Mrs. Bean when we grow up? What an awesome slice of conversation — I didn't want it to end. Thank you for capturing the essence of becoming a reader. Fabulous! I think I'll share this at school :).

    b

  12. Thankful to call Mrs. Bean my mom! I will never forget the countless hours she has spent reading to/with me (even Jane Eyre in high school). “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”