Welcome to Reading Noodle! I want my readers and customers to know a little bit about the 1st grade teacher behind the title of Reading Noodle.
My name is Karla Carlston. I currently live in Utah with my husband and 22 month old daughter, and we have one sweet baby boy on the way to us come early February 2019.
I was born and raised in beautiful southern California, just about 30 minutes from the Pacific Coast. I grew up spending days upon days at the beach, singing to oldies music, and READING!
As long as I can remember I have loved to read! I remember one Christmas I received a book in a series I was reading and I read almost 3/4 of the book on Christmas day. I remember spending HOURS reading the new Harry Potter books whenever they would be released.
I am a passionate reader. I attended all of my brothers sports games with at least 1 book in hand. My extended family LOVES to play games, and in between turns I would read my book at the table. I was obsessed, to say the least, and slightly nerdy about it. I loved getting lost in a vivid world of color, characters, and plot.
However, it wasn’t until I began teaching that I realized I didn’t even remember how I learned to read. Once I started teaching children how to read I realized how complex the English language is, especially when learning to read it.
I was at the end of my student teaching, just a few weeks shy of graduating, when I heard there was a 1st grade opening in the school I was student teaching at. I studied Early Childhood Special Education/Education at BYU-Idaho and was placed in a title one, low income school for student teaching.
Little did I know that school would capture my heart for the next 5 years of my life. I interviewed at the urging of my mentor teachers and colleagues and was shocked when I received a call from the principal saying they wanted to offer me the job! I remember emphatically saying “YES! YES! YES!” to the job offer.
I carefully and tenderly prepared my classroom and curriculum that summer. I daydreamed about my sweet little students that would come bounding through my door each morning. I promised myself I would never yell or lose my cool with my students, I would be the teacher they remembered forever. I fantasized about how the first day would go, and prided myself in knowing how well I did in my student teaching. I told myself this job would be just a small step up from that.
And you know what? It was anything but a small step up from student teaching. It was more like a giant step that I always felt was just a little out of reach.
My first year of teaching was so hard.
I had a really difficult class, behavior management wise, and felt like I was barely treading water all year. Oh and did I mention I got engaged, planned a wedding, and got married all during my 1st year of teaching?
To say I was exhausted would be an understatement.
I recharged in the summer, I settled into married life, enrolled in a masters program at WGU, and came back to my 2nd year ready to go.
Once again, I was slammed with severe behavior problems. Not to mention, right when I was feeling comfortable teaching the curriculum I started to see the drastic differences between each one of my students. Each child was so unique. Each child needed individual attention and care. There were many days I felt inadequate to offer that to them, while other days I left my classroom feeling like I had super powers.
By year three I was definitely feeling confident in my teaching abilities, most days. I had the sweetest class. Still quite a few behavior issues, but I had some solid tricks up my sleeve. I had a student with Down Syndrome that changed the dynamic of my class for the better, and changed my life for that matter. Year 3 was one for the books. I ended it by graduating with my Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
My final year of teaching I started out about 12 weeks pregnant. I have to admit my head wasn’t always in the game that year, especially after my daughter was born. However, I loved that sweet little class, and despite what was becoming a norm of having hard kids, they were overall really good to me.
When my last day of teaching came I stopped and took one last look. I surveyed my classroom for the last time with all of its bright colors, sticky fingerprints, and tender hugs, then I shut the door and left. It was bittersweet to leave those memories behind but I keep them close to my heart. I knew I was ready for my next adventure: motherhood.
Throughout the years I lost my cool more times than I’d like to admit. I definitely had moments where I hoped they wouldn’t remember me forever and would be patient with my imperfections. But there were SO many wonderful times. So many moments of laughter, building relationships, and turning points in their learning.
While I chose to stay home with my daughter, I will always carry the title of “teacher” next to my heart.
As I have had time to reflect on my teaching career there is one thing I wish I would have had time to do for the families of the students I taught. I wish I could have given them a glimpse of the tools and knowledge that I used in the classroom to use with their children at home.
I had numerous parents over the years eagerly sit across from me at parent teacher conferences and ask what they could do to help their child succeed at home. Unfortunately teachers are burnt out, overworked, and underpaid. We want so desperately to give so much to these children we teach, but we don’t have the resources or the time to do so in terms of sending extra materials home.
The thought of doing one more thing was sadly too much to bear while I was teaching full time. Especially when there are meetings upon meetings to attend, classrooms to clean and organize, meetings, papers to grade, phone calls to make, meetings, state and district policies that change constantly, oh and did I mention meetings? The emphasis on teaching sometimes becomes tainted with all the clutter of bureaucracy. Which sadly leaves the goal of most teachers, “to make a difference”, to fall to the wayside.
This is why I created Reading Noodle. In no way does this product replace a teacher! If anything this product enhances what teachers are doing in schools and connects it to home.
Reading Noodle is like bringing a mini classroom to your home wrapped up in a neat package. All of the tools are snug inside. The only problem is, where is the teacher? That is where the parents, older siblings, aunts uncles, grandparents, etc come in. This program is meant to bring families together in the name of learning. It is a time to interact and connect with your children, and to be active in their learning process. By participating in the activities and teaching the mini lessons you can identify down to the sound, the struggles your child is having.
I am a firm believer that the teacher, the child, and the parents are all equal parts in the learning success of a child. When children are held accountable at home and at school they will be successful!
Reading Noodle can help make that possible for your child whether they want to learn to read, are reading, or are struggling to read. Reading Noodle can help inspire young readers to enjoy reading, and unite parents and children in the learning process.