Canterbury TRG – An update from Tracy Parvin

The TRG was held at a school and the location had a great impact on teachers’ attendance: we had between 20-25 attendees at every meeting. This included teachers, TAs and HLTAs. The group would class themselves as enthusiastic readers, so we focused on Reading Teachers: Teachers who read and readers who teach. We looked at Cremin et al’s TaRs research and also Building Communities of Engaged Readers.

We would look at books at the start of the meetings and took a thematic approach to the books that we explored: books that made us laugh/cry; books that explored current issues; controversial books; wordless picturebooks. This loose approach did enable the group to explore books that they did not know and some commented on being taken out of their comfort zone: but this was seen as a positive outcome. One teacher felt that her developing knowledge of books supported her work with parents: she would recommend books to read at home.

What was evident as the meetings developed was the shift in focus in the conversations from their engagement with the books to how the books were used to engage the children. The group meetings gave a space to the teachers to discuss their classroom practices with reading: something that they had not done before. The teachers also began to change their daily routine and read aloud more frequently to the children. What was also evident was that a space had been section off on the whiteboard in the staffroom and teachers were starting to recommend books to each other. This became a very vibrant space as time went on.

One major impact was on the development of incidental book talk with the children. Teachers commented that had begun to share their reader responses towards books they had read (some from the book box): favourites were Christopher Edge; Cressida Cowell; Philip Ardagh; Elizabeth Laird. Other favourites were Hilary McKay; Lucy Strange and Lisa Thompson. This incidental talk had an impact on the children who would then go and look at these books in the library and/or buy from the local book shop. In fact, the teachers began to use the library more frequently. The teachers commented that they felt more confident in recommending books to the children.