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How to Reset Your Independent Reading in January (with Sara Marye)

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Show Notes:

Every now and then you meet another educator who you just bond with instantly because you feel so aligned with who they are and how they teach. Well, this is exactly what happened when I met Sara Marye of the Stellar Teaching Company. I first met Sara when I interviewed her last year for the Beginning Teacher Talk podcast. And after that interview, we must have talked for at least another hour. Since then we've become really good friends. 

Sara Marye has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She is now a literacy specialist who is passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world grow their students into lifelong readers. Sara's mission is to make teachers' lives a little easier by providing them with endless encouragement, effective strategies, and engaging, no-fluff resources. Sara is also the host of the Stellar Teacher Podcast, where she loves to share her favorite literacy tips each week.

Sara and I respect each other's work so much that we decided that we were going to do something called a podcast swap! So today, you're going to receive the gift of a podcast that originally aired for Sara's podcast in January of 2020 on the Stellar Teacher Podcast on a topic that we specially selected just for you. 

It’s pretty safe to say that there are usually several challenges that you face when returning to school after winter break. Your students have just spent at least two weeks being out of their normal school routine. This means that they may be used to staying up late, sleeping in, living in their pajamas, and having extra screen time. In other words, during winter break, it's possible that they have, as Sara says, forgotten how to do school.

One of the things that can be really hard to get back into your normal routine is your independent reading. If you're an upper elementary teacher, then more than likely your students were reading for 30 to 40, uninterrupted minutes before break. If you’re a lower elementary teacher, maybe it’s closer to 15 minutes. Either way, it took some time to build up that stamina, and chances are, students probably weren’t reading for that length of time while enjoying their holiday break. Many of them may not have even read at all. 

So, knowing that there might be some bumps and hurdles your first week back, Sara is going to share a few ideas that you can use to reset your independent reading time. So that way, you can quickly get back the momentum that you had before break.  Even if you're shaking your head, and you're thinking, holy cow, I don't even feel like I ever got my independent reading time down pat, you're still going to love the very practical tips that Sara shares. Just consider this to be your chance to refine this part of your reading block.

These tips will help you set up your students for success in the second half of the school year. Although Sara typically works with students in upper elementary and usually supports upper elementary teachers, she shares a lot of great tips inside this episode that we can use at any grade level. So I know you're really going to enjoy it and get a lot of value out of the very practical ideas that Sara has to share with you.

Inside this week's show, you'll learn:

  • 5 ways to successfully jump back into independent reading after winter break.
  • Why slowing down to reteach habits and behaviors is absolutely essential, especially after a break.
  • How to set reading goals that don’t involve a student’s reading level.
  • How to add new excitement to your classroom library quickly and easily.
  • The power of praising every students’ independent reading efforts and examples of what this looks like.

Links & resources mentioned inside this episode:

I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at

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