Spreading the Love in a Small School: What can I do?

Penny Kittle forDog_ate_my_homework_SEO_promo_imagemulates all kinds of wonderful ideas, and her school pioneers some wonderful practices in helping the teachers develop literacy practices in their students. Two of the ideas that especially struck a chord with me were school wide reading times and summer reading with teachers.

I would love to see a time set aside for schools to have reading time during the day for all students. I would love to see teachers willing to host book readings and book clubs with students. I would love to see students who eagerly sign up for a summer reading with their favorite teacher reading their favorite book.

But I don’t know how to make that a reality.

You see, Kittle works in a school where there are 119 staff and faculty members. While this includes administrative positions, some of them still work with students for summer reading and reading breaks. There are more staff in her school than the number of students in many Nebraska high schools, the demographic where I plan to teach.

While I may be excited about books, the possibility that I am one of the few at my first school that has excitement for reading exists strongly. I may be the only teacher who thinks reading and literacy is important enough to want to go further than my school currently does.

Also, logistics issues pose a problem. In smaller schools, there are sometimes only 10 teachers. Even if all 10 teachers willingly hopped on board the program, the choices for students is limited. Also, students are very busy in smaller schools over the summer with various sports, jobs, and vacations, that it would be difficult pulling it all together.


This is one of the snafus of most books with great ideas. The ideas are almost exclusively tested and written about from teachers in schools with dozens of teachers and thousands of students.

But that is not what I am looking for.

I will be teaching in a very small school. Many of these ideas have never been used or tested in small schools where there are only a couple dozen students. Some great ideas, such as the two that Kittle suggests, sound or look impossible for small schools.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see students fall in love with reading, and I would like to see a community of teachers that support literacy, but it seems like a daunting task to create a mindset that rallies around the importance and joy of books.

For now, while I am still in college, I am content with reading and collecting the books that I can. I aim for creating my own classroom library, with the hopes that someday, somewhere, a spark will get not only my students reading, but also teachers and other community members in my town reading.


10 responses to “Spreading the Love in a Small School: What can I do?

  1. One smaller school I worked at didn’t have schoolwide reading, but the librarian had book clubs during the lunch periods each day and one day after school. It was completely voluntary, but students LOVED it! It’s one way to “make it work” in a small school. Small schools require more creativity to implement large concept shifts, but it is worth it to try and it is worth it to “adjust” the plan to fit the school.


  2. It is a large task for sure, but never forget that whatever small efforts and innovations you implement will lead to amazing opportunities for a lot of students.


  3. You make a good point here about the possibility that, in a small school, you may be the only adult who is able and willing to promote literacy in these ways. But in some ways, I actually think it’s easier to do all of this work in a very small school where you would be able to get to know every single student and be a more effective book match-maker.


    • You make some very good points. It can certainly be easier for one candle to light an entire school when it is smaller, but much more difficult with a massive school.


  4. I totally get where you’re coming from, Zach. My school had just over 200 students K-12 and one teacher for each subject area in the high school. We implemented Silent Sustained Reading when I was in junior high, and at first, it was a mess. Students and teachers complained about it. However, as time went on, we all came to LOVE the practice. 20 minutes of class that was spent silently reading whatever book we wanted became the best part of school M-Th. This gives me some hope that maybe it can be implemented and successful elsewhere, too! 🙂


  5. Small schools for the win! I love the idea here about encouraging summer reading amongst teachers, but I also agree that you might be the only one. Keep trekking forward. You know what’s best for your students backed by your research.


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