Kellie Smith

  • Driving to the Early Years ( EY ) conference this morning I couldn’t help being inspired by the colours of Autumn here in Argyll, around the shores of Loch Fyne. Ironically, Sheena Easton was singing ‘For Your […]

  • Being an English teacher, I still look and cringe at my first, probably, five years of teaching. Everything that had got me to where I was, everything which I had experienced up until that point and had supported me through the years of working in terrible jobs – the wilderness years, as I like to call them – had books to thank; books and my ability to read them and stick with them. What shames me is that by the end of my fifth year I had just about thrown in the towel when it came to encouraging Reading for Pleasure in my class.
    At around about that point, I stumbled upon ‘The Book Whisperer’. Slightly cynical at first, the title sounded cheesy and cringeworthy, I’ll have to be honest. It, without a shadow of a doubt, changed me as a teacher. I read through this book with increasing ardour, angry at myself for forgetting why reading for pleasure is so important. Donalyn Miller, a teacher from Texas, had written a book which rekindled my belief in reading and one which is never very far from my desk whenever I contemplate reading for pleasure in the classroom. I return to it again and again.
    What struck me was not merely the simple message that if we are to create and develop children who will go on to be life long readers – and who would argue with that? – then  we have to live that philosophy every day in class, not merely when it suits us. I had become the teacher who drops reading when things get busy, assuming it to be a luxury a packed curriculum could not afford, but the passion and love for her students which oozes throughout the ’The Book Whisperer’ convinced me that there is another way: Time, Choice, and Love have become the backbone of my practice in developing readers.
    Creating the conditions for our students to see reading for pleasure as a valued and valuable skill takes a lot of time and commitment but if we, especially as English Teachers, don’t do it, then who will? I’ve persisted with many of the strategist I found in this book – time to read every day, free choice, consistent support and discussion – even when it would have been easier not to. I’ve sacrificed other things in order to keep reading as a mainstay of every lesson. And, do you know what? My students make progress in all areas as well as leaving me having begun that process of becoming a reader.
    If you’ve ever heard me rattle on at Teachmeets or Pedagoo sessions then you’re more than likely to have heard me mention ‘The Book Whisperer’. And, while I read some incredibly good Educational books on all sorts of subjects, this one is my favourite. Donalyn Miller has followed this up with more of the same in ‘Reading in the Wild’ but her first book is essential for those of you who are responsible for Literacy and promoting reading for pleasure. Indeed the message screaming from each page might be, “There’s more to life than oaks you know, but not much more.’ Read it soon.

    #FabEduBooks is supported by Crown House Publishing
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  • A couple of years back a young boy in school came sauntering along the corridor towards me with those big trendy headphones on. I approached with my stern teacher face on and asked him to remove them, which he […]

  • ThumbnailIt’s been a while coming but I’m in the proud position to announce that PedagooGlasgow is on. After some healthy consultation with the University of Strathclyde, we will be holding an event on Saturday June 14, in […]

  • ThumbnailIt has been almost two and a half years since the inception of Pedagoo and it’s been a hell of a ride, I can tell you. Without doubt one of the most inspiring ventures of my teaching career, I’ve been involved […]

  • Another great week for #pedagoofriday, folks. Keep ’em coming

    Our senior pupils organised and hosted a tea dance for older people living in the community. If was a massive success. #PedagooFriday— RJ Nicolson […]

  • ThumbnailCross-posted from

    This may or may not have happened.

    He handed me his first piece of writing homework and, of course, it was illegible. ‘I’m not good at writing’, he’d told […]

  • Cheers for this Fearghal. Been out of the loop recently for many reasons (long story) but this is great. will get on it ASAP.


  • I made it on pedagoo at last! Great post about your first year teaching. It’s great to sit down and reflect at the end of what was a very challenging year.

  • Danielle Gowie became a registered member 7 years, 3 months ago

  • I’ll probably not make many friends by writing this post but it concerns something that has been burning inside of me for a while. Exacerbated by the increasing ‘doom and gloom’ scare stories over the Curriculum […]

  • That sounds brilliant, Gemma.

    Did you see the programme on BBC2 last night about weird cloud formations? If not, do have a look at BBC iplayer, your children would love it!

  • I thought last Friday was one of the best days we’ve ever had, but this week is on a par. Doesn’t it just show how many great things are happening in our classrooms each week, all over the place? Makes my heart […]

  • There’s a skill that I was taught nearly 30 years ago, which over the intervening years has saved me literally years of wasted time. It’s a skill that is completely missing from the current National Curriculum in […]

  • Hello Fearghal,

    A Pedagoo book sounds like a great idea. Can I recommend that you approach the Society of Authors for advice? Publishing contracts are notoriously tricky to understand (it’s taken me 20 years to […]

  • ThumbnailIt’s often said that we’re becoming more and more risk averse as a society. Certainly, it seems to me that schools and teachers are less willing to take risks than they were when I first came into the profession […]

  • Hello Rachael, I love the euros/payment idea – thanks for that!

    I also love what you say about Ofsted/progress/teachers not being allowed to be human any more. You are so right.

    I honestly don’t think that […]

  • Sue Cowley changed their profile picture 7 years, 8 months ago

  • ThumbnailI’ve been thinking and writing a lot about resources recently: how they can extend children’s thinking, and also how teachers can use them for differentiation. It’s tempting to believe that you have to spend quite […]

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