Charming Readers
Dear READ 180 Administrator: A Letter to Get You Motivated for Back to School

Dear READ 180 Administrator,

     I just wanted to say thank you for an amazing year. I really enjoy turning dormant, disengaged, and striving readers into lifelong readers. Your support has made a world of difference for my students. When students see the partnership between teachers and administrators, they are deeply impacted for the better. They also see us modeling working collaboratively, which is a skill they’ll need in the world of work.

     It made a difference for my students when you shared your goals, your growth mindset about those goals, and your reading life with my classes. Some of our students lack seeing adults setting goals and making a plan to achieve them. When you shared your professional goal for the year and your plan to achieve it, it was just another voice in their ear saying, “Real people set goals and make plans to achieve them.” It’s not just something teachers make up. I was honored to be one of your accountability partners. My students latched on to that idea and started supporting each other in the work.

     I was shocked when you started dropping some facts about our READ 180 data in front of the class. It moved me that you monitor what you value. It made me want to improve a few things. It also surprised my students that you know their names and how they are doing. In a sense, you became our classes’ accountability partner. We decided to celebrate our strengths and rise up to meet the challenges.

     My students loved it when you stopped by in person or sent them a video or podcast  with your book recommendations. There’s a book for every reader, and I can’t read them all. When you shared your recommendations, it helped showcase the diversity of what real readers read.  My boys especially valued a males’ perspective. Every time you visited or visited virtually, I had at many students ask to go to the library and get the book you talked about.

     Thanks, too, for attending our events and celebrations. My students need to find the positive energy one gets from success in order to rewire their brains. I love hosting special reading days and celebrations of success. When the administrative team members and you stopped by, it really helped make the occasion special. Some of my friends haven’t always had the best interactions with administrators. For them to see you as something other than the disciplinarian has changed their minds about you.

     I also value that you make an effort to make reading and writing a reward in this building rather than a consequence. Reading and writing are hard work, and some students don’t all like these subjects. When they get to participate in positive activities like mentoring younger students, reading buddies, and the elementary pen pals program, they lay a foundation of joy that they can build upon during this year and later in life. Sometimes we all need a different perspective to help us change our minds.

     New book day is a special day in our classroom. A small infusion of new books—best sellers, trendy topics, and later books in a series--really generates enthusiasm and excitement. I’ve had to start raffling off the new books so that I have a fair system to distribute them to the first reader. I know that you can spend school funds on a million different initiatives and supplies, but know that my students and I love new book day. Thanks for choosing to allot us a little chunk of change for new books each year. This shows that students that not only do you talk the talk of being reader, you value them enough share precious resources with them.

     Finally, I deeply appreciate how you support my professional growth and development. I’m always seeking new tools and strategies to help my readers. My quest is to ensure that every student leaves my classroom not only growing as a reader but also developing as a human being. Without our thought provoking professional conversations and goal setting conferences, I might not be the teacher I am today. Keep on reTweeting articles that pertain to my craft. Please keep on helping me stretch.

     You make a difference and I am proud to have you as a member of #TeamLiteracy. Your support means the world to me and my students.

 Yours in literacy,

a grateful teacher

Houston, TX

Charmion Mohning is the Secondary Reading Coordinator and lead reader in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences about growing a love of reading, word study, and implementing READ 180 with fidelity. She is passionate about ensuring that every student can read. Before becoming an administrator, Charmion taught English as a Second Language in Grades 4-6 and was a curriculum coach for the district’s structured English immersion program. She has degrees from Upper Iowa University and Sam Houston State University.