By Cristy Rauseo

Have you ever wished you could live a day all over again? I do. In my case, I’d want to live a whole week again. Thanks to Booksource, I received a Teachers College Summer Reading Institute scholarship this year. I had the honor of participating in sessions with the most amazing group of educators from all around the world. I was right there, listening firsthand to none other than Lucy Calkins, Kathy Collins, Shanna Schwartz, Amanda Hartman and many other incredible people who have given their all to study the best practices for teachers, reach students and ignite in them a passion for reading and writing.

From the moment of my arrival, the atmosphere spoke for itself. The buildings in the amazing area of Morningside Heights—where Columbia University is located—spoke volumes. The monumental towers seemed to whisper that I was in the best place to grow as a teacher and as a person.TCRWP

I met people from all over the country and the world who want the future generations to succeed, and all of us know that education is a big part of that process. Seeing people who traveled far and wide to learn how to do that better was a true testament to that dedication, and it was very exciting to see the passion.

Sometimes during my busy school days I get discouraged and everything seems to go wrong. It was so refreshing to listen to other teachers sharing the same worries; it made me feel like we are all in this together.

Each day we had a small-group session in the morning, a large-group session in the afternoon and a workshop of our choice to end the day.

Morning sessions were my favorite. There, we observed the small-group leader model the different parts of a reading workshop. Then, we got to practice it ourselves. We wore our teachers’ hat for a little bit and then put on our students’ hats to experience how it would look and feel from the students’ perspective. Stepping into my students’ shoes was eye-opening.

The afternoon was also packed with information that took my understanding of teaching reading to a deeper level. Shanna Schwartz made us all laugh and learn while sharing her expertise on the art of teaching reading within a workshop model.

The closing sessions were the tricky part. The institute offered so many that it was hard to pick just one! Kathy Collins presented “Reading Is Thinking: Boosting Comprehension across Books and Levels” and Amanda Hartman talked about how to develop our teaching skills when leading interactive read alouds and accountable talks. I learned great strategies from these sessions that I can’t wait to share with my colleagues and apply in the upcoming school year.

As the end of the week approached, I felt like a kid leaving summer camp; I did not want it to end. Each night, I would relive the day and feel so thankful for this opportunity and inspired to continue the amazing job I have.TCRWP

In a couple of weeks, I will be starting my eighth year of teaching. You would think by now the back-to-school jitters would be gone, but after all I’ve learned and after all I experienced during the Teachers College Summer Reading Institute, I am extra motivated to go back into the classroom and—like Lucy Calkins said—“have a contagious attitude for reading” that helps me rally my students to love reading.

I am also very excited because I get to share all this learning with an amazing group of teachers in Liberty, Texas. I am sure that sharing the knowledge I gained from the institute and applying the best practices for teaching reading skills will make our school stronger and our students lifelong readers.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, “I am an ordinary person who has been blessed with extraordinary opportunities and experiences. Today is one of those experiences.” These words express exactly how I feel. Thanks again to Booksource for supporting educators in and out of the classroom.

Every year, Booksource awards two $1,250 scholarships to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Summer Institutes (one for a Reading Institute and one for a Writing Institute). Learn more about these programs and how to apply for a 2017 Teachers College Summer Institutes scholarship from Booksource here.