Reading to your child before bed is a great way to help foster a lifelong love of reading, as well as helping to improve literacy skills. With this in mind, Dr. Belinda George, a Principal at Homer Drive Elementary in Beaumont, in Southeast Texas, has started reading bedtime stories to her students over Facebook Live.
As The Washington Post reports, George gets into her pajamas at 7:30 on Tuesdays and then opens Facebook Live in order to read her students a bedtime story. She calls it ‘Tucked-in Tuesdays’ and anyone who visits the schools Facebook page can tune in. The stories have proven to be quite a hit and Dr. George has received great feedback from her pupils. “Kids will come up to me Wednesday and say, ‘Dr. George, I saw you in your PJs reading!,” she said. “They’ll tell me their favorite part of the book.” Students enjoy her reading and funny voices, and often ask where they can find the book in the library.
Tucked-in Tuesdays have become so popular that parents and children across the States have begun tuning in. One comment on the livestream reads: “Serenity is watching from Albuquerque, NM,” and another viewer from Illinos writes: “LOVE THIS!!!!!” Another poster writes: “Thank you for going out of your way for them!”
George says she does Tucked-in Tuesdays because she believes it helps create a strong bond between work and school, and also because she loves her students. “The bottom line is I love, love kids,” said George, adding she does not have any of her own. “I know if I don’t reach them outside of school I never reach them in school.”
Tucked-in Tuesdays began in December of last year and were aimed at her 680 students. Since then some of her videos have been viewed over two thousand times. George will also give shout outs to students she sees are watching, but she has to be careful to get their names right. “They’ll come in the next day and tell me, ‘You’re saying my name wrong,’” she said.
Tucked-In Tuesdays also help promote family time, as parents will often watch along with their children. She will also ask questions for the children to answer as she reads the book. George goes to a lot of effort with her new show, wearing Ladybug wings when she read the book Ladybug Girl, as well as having an inflatable astronaut behind her as she read Astronaut Handbook. George states the reading grade of each book and her students can take an optional quiz about the book the next day as part of the school’s reading comprehension curriculum.
George also pauses at moments to examine and reflect on parts of the stories she reads. In Ladybug Girl, she came to a point in the book where Ladybug Girl’s brother says she can’t play with him because she’s too small. At this point George stopped and addressed her audience. “How many of you have ever been told that you’re too little to do something?,” she asked. “I have three older sisters, and they used to tell me I was too little to do something.
“But guess what?” she asked with a glint in her eye. “I did it anyway.”
94 percent of George’s students come from economically disadvantaged homes, and 2018’s literacy tests showed that an average of just 55 percent of her third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were reading on or above grade level. Since becoming principal, George has focused on improving her students literacy skills, adding that they’ve already seen growth.
George explained that she knows first hand what it’s like to live in an economically disadvantaged home. She grew up in a three bedroom trailer in Louisiana which she shared with five siblings. Her father worked on a Crawfish farm and dropped out of school in the fifth grade in order to care for his father. Her mother dropped out of school in the eleventh grade. “My mom and dad were great parents,” said George, adding that they put a great emphasis education even though they did not have a lot of it themselves. “My mom was a really smart lady,” she added.
George makes a point of giving positive feedback to her students, and has high expectations, but she also understands that she has to meet them at their level. She said she doesn’t want students to feel like they’ve failed or let her down if they don’t go to college. “I understand some of these kids will never go to college, but I don’t want them to feel like they’re not successful. Whatever you choose, just be good at it,” she said. “If you’re a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger there is.”
As if Tucked-in Tuesdays weren’t enough, George also hosts twice-weekly dance parties at school and also does home visits to give students kudos and to help them if they’re struggling.
“Anything I can do to build relationships,” she said. “If a child feels loved they will try. There’s no science about it.”