Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 4 #sol19

One by one, we made our way in.  The day had felt long, and everyone seemed to be exhibiting quiet relief as they entered the room, books in hand.  Small conversations, friendly banter, gradually and organically began to bubble up as more of my colleagues sauntered in from the hallways. The aroma of cheese pizza, two of them resting at the center of a table now adorned with a red and white checked tablecloth, permeated the room.

Today would mark our second book club meeting, and I will admit to feeling slightly uneasy.  The book I had selected for us to read, a young adult novel aimed at middle school students… well, hadn’t really ‘grabbed me’ yet; and I worried that others I’d invited to join the club may now be feeling similarly. They may be also regretting their decision to join the club.

Everyone settled in, grabbing a slice of pizza. As they did so I silently marveled at the cross section of our school staff who occupied places around the table: a math teacher, a history teacher, a Spanish teacher, an English Language Arts teacher, a French teacher… “So lovely to see this convening of such an unlikely group,” I thought to myself, even though five others had said they were unable to attend today’s meeting.

But I worried.  And I tried to read faces. Did they regret the decision?

Suddenly, someone said, “I really like this book!”  Another person agreed.  And slowly, it came to be revealed that all but one of them genuinely did like the book.  I breathed a silent sigh of relief.  And as the conversation about the book ensued, I noticed my own tepid affinity for the book began to grow and expand.  Listening to others’ perspectives, ideas, and interpretations of the story– along with the emotion my colleagues were expressing– helped me see the book in a new way.

But not only did I begin to appreciate the book in new ways, I also began to appreciate my colleagues a little more.  This conversation, this unique way of coming together around a common text, seemed to forge new connections between us and broaden our understandings of one another.  Talking about this book allowed us to step out of our typical roles and known personas and relate… differently.  And in doing so, I felt as if all of us in that room not only deepened our thinking about the book, but each other.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 23 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy and reading consultant in Northwestern Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops, twowritingteachers.org.

21 thoughts on “Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 4 #sol19”

    1. The last two years I’ve written a grant to purchase a dozen copies of a book written by our visiting author. Teachers are invited to participate, then we donate the books to the library for our kids to read!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. The book club is a great way to bring teachers together on a shared topic where their teaching is not going to be critiqued but where they are being readers and experiencing, first hand, what happens when we read as a group. Reading can be personal, and sometimes it should be, but reading as a group shifts interpretations, creates compassion for others, and offers new meaning to the book because you know it has impacted others. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lanny, I wish I was in this book club! I do love how the worry that they disliked the book became the thing that caused you to slow down and see so much more. I need to pay attention to those worries today. I hope they lead to the kind of deeper understanding that you were able to find in this post.

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  3. I love book clubs. Sadly, I always seem to be the only one really interested in the books! You should stress less, I think some really great conversations could come as much from books we love as those we do not!

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  4. I think that when you are the one who selects the book there is always pressure. What if they don’t like it? What will they think about me that I chose this book? But the important thing here is community. Even if everyone hated the book, they would be together in conversation, in fellowship!

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  5. Being part of a book club is so rewarding. I love that you are doing it with the faculty at your school, Lanny. “Coming together around a common text, seemed to forge new connections between us and broaden our understandings of one another.” That’s how trusting communities are built. Thank you for sharing! (I hope you’ll let us know the book’s title in a future post.)

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  6. Our current book club is helping us, “broaden our understandings of one another.”
    As teachers from International schools, coming from all around the world, reading and learning from the same text truly brings out the varied experiences and impacts the learning both of the content and more importantly of each others’ cultures.

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  7. Book clubs are really a wonderful way for people to come together – to honor the written word and each other. I’ve been in a mother-daughter book group since my daughter was in 4th or 5th grade. We are still together, the mothers that is, as the daughters are grown and in their 20s. We’ve experienced a lot of life together and formed real bonds. Maybe I’ll write a post about it. I love how you got a grant and buy books and then donate to the school library. And of course the pizza is an essential ingredient. Very cool!

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  8. So much to love about this slice Lanny. Your writing always. I feel like I’m right there at the table, my book in hand, my mouth watering as I smell the pizza. Gathering a group around a book- whether or not everyone loves it- is just wonderful.

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  9. I really like the way you describe the atmosphere in the room. I felt that it was me the one hosting the book club and felt scared! Anyway, now you need to give away the title and author of the book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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