How a Hashtag Made Me a Better Teacher

How a Hashtag Made Me a Better Teacher by Liz Janusz
Liz Janusz
Liz Janusz
2 Oct
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Reading has always been a part of who I am. I remember many of my nights as a kid: snuggled up in bed reading the Baby-sitters Club series and the Boxcar Children series. I devoured each book as I just needed to know what happened next for each of the foursomes! As I grew up, my attention turned to the Sweet Valley High books. I felt a connection with Elizabeth and Jessica, like the books were written just for me! 

As an adult, slowly, other things started to take priority and my reading was put on the back burner. My love for books and reading was still there, but now I was living vicariously through others who would read and tell me about it

“Oh yeah, that one sounds great! I’ll add it to my list.” I would say. It made it to the ever-growing list in my mind, where it would sit, never being read. 

Over winter break last year, I optimistically brought home two books from our school library and I was determined to start small and read those two books over break! To my surprise, once I started, I just had to finish reading them as soon as I could. The day that I finished my second book, it just so happened to be New Year’s Eve. In true NYE fashion, I made a resolution that evening: I would spend 2019 reading as many books as I could. I also decided to share my journey with others as a way to not only hold myself accountable, but simply for the pleasure of sharing great books with others. I created the hashtag #booktalks2019 and the rest is history

Since then, every time I finish a book, I tweet out a picture of the cover with a short book talk and/or my thoughts about it, and use my new hashtag. I’m fortunate enough to work in a district that really utilizes Twitter, so I knew that this would be a natural way to share some great books that teachers could use in their own rooms. 

After finishing those two books over winter break, I finally felt my joy of reading come back to me after a long hiatus. I was hooked; I continued to seek out a variety of middle grade novels to read and share. I wanted everyone around me to be as excited about reading again as I was. I talked about the books I was reading to anyone who would listen to me! As an instructional coach, my main role is to be in classrooms supporting our teachers. Being in the classroom is continually my favorite part of my job. But now, reading so many middle grade novels has opened up the way that I can connect with students on a whole different level. 

Read “Building a Culture of Readers” by Liz Janusz

Being able to recommend specific books to students based on what their interests and being able to share with them why they will like it, is such an amazing feeling. I’m telling you… there is absolutely no better feeling for an educator, when a student stops you in the hallway because he just has to thank you for recommending a book for him because he loves it so much! The same student who just the year before would never even think about picking up a book. 

Read “Finding the Right Key to Unlocking a Reluctant Reader’s Heart” by Becca Foxwell

After having enough of those amazing moments happen, I’ve made it my own personal mission to expose ALL students in my building to a diverse selection of books. Books should be windows and mirrors for our students; they should be able to see themselves in the characters but should also show them different ways of living. Since January 1st, I’ve currently read and shared 59 middle grade novels with students and staff in our building and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I truly believe that the more we expose books to students, they will eventually find their book “soulmate” that will leave them hooked: just like Baby-Sitters Club did for me.

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Liz Janusz - Instructional Coach, Google Certified Educator, Contributor for Pearson, former reading specialist, lover of picture books, and planner obsessed

Liz Janusz is an Instructional Coach with an emphasis in ELA. She currently is working at River Valley School in Lemont, IL with supporting 3rd-5th grade students and teachers. She has previously worked as a reading specialist and as a classroom teacher before transitioning into her coaching role. Liz has received her Master’s degree in Reading from Roosevelt University. She has a huge passion for ensuring that ALL students should have access to a diverse selection of books. You can follow Liz on Twitter at @mrs_janusz as she shares book reviews, and other tips and ideas, for all different ages of students.

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