The Miracle of Becoming a Reading Teacher


The Miracle of the Beginning Reader 

By Jane Miller 

I wiggle and I jiggle

And I rock upon my chair.

I wiggle my lose teeth,

and I twirl a strand of hair. 

I kick my foot with rhythm

Lose the place where I should look

I rub my nose and clear my throat,

and sometimes drop my book.

I look outside the window

And I look down at the floor.

I pay very close attention

when someone’s at the door.

I close my eyes and rest my head;

My teacher’s heart must bleed.

But in spite of all of this

I’m learning how to read.


I love this poem. It is so true of children. I discovered when I taught that even when children don’t seem to be, they pay very close attention and watch every single thing you do and say.

And even when they seem not to be, they are learning. Some faster than others, but most eventually learn. You just have to give it time. Kind of like with cooking.

I taught elementary aged children, mostly first grade. I was a reading teacher.

But that was not the course I set for myself in college though.

I wanted to teach 5th or 6th grade. Did my student teaching in 6th grade. Loved it. I did not want to teach the little ones. I didn’t know what to say to them, how to talk to those babies.

Plus I did not know how to teach reading. Had one course in college and it was with one of the worst profs ever. He mostly talked about OSU football.  (He was an anomaly. All of my other professors in college were outstanding!! I got a great education.)

My first job teaching was as a substitute.  There were several principals who liked me and always vied to have me as a sub in their school. I was finishing up one sub assignment on a Friday afternoon when the principal came to me and said he would have a two or three month long assignment for me beginning the following Monday and he had asked for me and got me for this assignment.

I was ecstatic…………………until he told me it was a first grade class. But I had to work and needed the job. So there was nothing for it.

I fretted the entire weekend. I mean I did not sleep the entire weekend. I was so nervous I hardly ate either. I had taken all of the regular teacher’s lesson plans and Teacher’s Manuals home and studied and studied and fretted more and then even some more. I thought I was going to be sick. How was I ever going to be able to teach reading to these kids?

I did not know ANYTHING. Not one single thing about how to teach reading to children who did not already know how to read. I mean HOW DO YOU DO THAT? I did not sleep a wink on Sunday night. I was at school by 7 a.m. Monday morning full of the jiters. To say I was nervous and scared out of my skin is an understatement of colossal proportions.

Took attendance, collected lunch money all the usual a.m. teacher business; hanging up coats, tying shoes, unzipping stuck zippers, and all that jazz. Gave students some work to do while I took my first ever reading group to the reading circle to work with them.

Then a miracle occurred.

What occurred that day affected and changed how I have approached life ever since. Within a brief fifteen minutes of time I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I was home. I knew that teaching reading to first graders was what I was supposed to do.

I instinctively knew how to teach reading. I knew what each child needed and how to teach it to him or her. I can’t explain it. I just knew how to do it. It was a gift.  I don’t know where it came from. A God-given gift I never knew I had until some one (the principal of that school) ‘forced’ me to try some thing new; forced me out of my comfort zone.

I went home that night with a new mission. I took all the books again, but this time I made my own lesson plans and I changed reading groups. I was on a mission.

Two weeks later after school I drove to the University and signed up to get my Master’s in Reading Instruction. I didn’t even know how I was going to pay for it as I did not have a full time job. But that didn’t matter. I just HAD to do it! I was on a mission.

The rest they say is history. In my brief teaching career I taught many students to read, some who had been written off by others as hopeless. And I loved every single minute of it. My students taught me more than I ever taught them.

So what life lessons did I take away from this experience?

Don’t be fearful of anything.

Don’t be afraid of trying some thing new, even if you think you can’t do it. Embrace the new, do not fear it.

Be open to new experiences and to all life offers.

Don’t worry if you fall flat on your face. Pick yourself up, laugh, cry, whatever, and then move forward again.

Know that children experience these same feelings of fear and inadequacy every day in the classroom, at home, and in life. Give them that extra bit of consideration that they too face fears but do not know how to voice it.

It’s not worth fretting and worrying and making yourself sick over matters overmuch as most things tend to work out and usually for the best.

Enjoy the roller coaster ride that is life. Enjoy the highs, get through the lows cause you never know what miracle is awaiting you round that next curve.

Enjoy life.

Featured Recipe     Brown Sugar and Sherry Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

This is another easy, but delish side dish you can whip up in no time. It is a great fall and/or Thanksgiving side.

And as usual here at More Thyme the cost is super budget friendly. Each ingredient in this recipe cost less than $1.00. Can’t beat that for so much deliciousness!

This is what you will need for 3 people:

2 parsnips

2 carrots

½ cup water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons sherry

Optional: Grating of nutmeg

Here is what you do:

Peel the carrots and parsnips.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the vegetables, and then slice on the diagonal. You can slice into rounds too, I just think on the diagonal is prettier.

Place everything except the nutmeg, in a 2-3 quart pot.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook about 3-4 minutes.

Remove the cover and increase the heat to medium high.

Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced to a syrup like consistency.

Stir the vegetables in the syrup till they are covered with the glaze. Place the vegetables on a plate and using a zester sprinkle some nutmeg over the carrots and parsnips.

Serve with any meat entrée.

Bon appétit


2 carrots                                            $0.45                                     

2 parsnips                                          $0.51

½ cup water                                       $—-

2 tablespoons butter                           $0.40

2 tablespoons brown sugar                  $0.11

2 tablespoons sherry                           $0.25

Optional: Grating of nutmeg                $0.06

Total cost = $1.78
Cost per person = $0.59

Quote of the Day

Life is a thing that mutates without warning, not always in enviable ways. All part of the improbable adventure of being alive, of being a brainy biped with giant dreams on a crazy blue planet.

Diane Ackerman


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2 comments to The Miracle of Becoming a Reading Teacher

  • Cindy

    Ah, teacher jitters.. so well described, sleepless nights! How marvelous that you found you were a “natural”.. That is a gift.. And nice to learn more about you!

    • Roberta

      Only teachers know about those jitters and sleepless nights, Cindy. General public does not always know how much we care. Sad.