I went to a district literacy meeting today. The kind of meeting where you usually go "ugh- let me write my To-do list, plan out my evening, and pretend to pay attention."
Except this wasn't that kind of meeting. Our presenter shared a wonderful book with us.
Although her intention was not to get me all mushy and sentimental, that is what she did. The presenter was actually teaching us engaging strategies for instructing students in Close Reading (and I learned a ton I swear), but what really hit me was the story line of the book. The main character in the book is a slave boy. The boy ends up meeting a teacher who is willing to risk her job and safety in order to teach the little boy to read. When she loses her job for helping him, he gives her a piece of bark with his handwriting to remember him. She tells him that she will never forget him.
I have so many of those kids. And I am sure you do too. Those kids that you won't ever forget because they make you remember why you got into teaching in the first place.
The story line in Up the Learning Tree made me think of one my favorite books That Book Woman.
Heather Henson is a Kentucky author and I was given this book by my aunt (a former teacher herself). The story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains and features a Pack Horse Librarian who scales the mountain sides to deliver books to children who wouldn't have a chance to read otherwise. At some point in the book, the main character Cal who previously had no interest in books, is won over by the extreme measures of the Book Woman. She lets him know that hearing him read is all she wants.
I choose to read this book to my kids at the beginning of every school year. I struggle through--sniffling back tears--- because we (the kids and I) need to know why I do what I do. Even though it may go over a lot of their heads. I need the kids to know that I am sticking it out with them through thick and thin. That it isn't always going to be easy.
Every once in a while, I need to remember why I do what I do....
*sharing a joke with my non-English speaking student (in my broken Spanish) and hearing her giggle for the first time.
*seeing a normally agitated student choose to participate in an activity that he would normally label "dumb" AND enjoy it!
*watching students go the extra mile to be kind to each other when they don't know a teacher is watching.
*sharing those hundreds of moments when they finally get it.
There are so many more moments that keep us coming back for more. Sometimes I get caught up in staying on schedule, formulating my data, or establishing my procedures, but just in case you needed to hear it tonight...
What you do is life-changing and oh-so important.