My favorite educational writers Kylene Beers and Robert Probst have taught me many things. Most recently in the book Disrupting Thinking they put out the idea that the things we read should have some kind of impact on us as readers. Either through learning something new or building up an established idea or maybe even leading to a change in us.
The book as many of their other texts has had a profound impact on me as a teacher but more so as a reader. In the last few weeks (and few days now that summer is here) I have had numerous reading experiences that have lead to a change in me and the way I look at the world.
First The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Growing up in smaller towns in Canada and now living in a very small town the subject matter of police misconduct and racial discrimination is not one that resonated with me personally. Like everyone I am upset by news stories that report this ever growing issue but as it was not something I could “relate” to it was not something that occupied my thinking. Reading this book and being introduced to these outstanding characters somehow made something that I only would ever see on the news more real. Imagine that, a young adult fiction novel became so much more real and powerful in showing me the impact of racism and police misconduct in American cities than the news stories. My second profound change book has been A List of Cages by Robin Roe. Again a story that I have not experienced anything that the characters in this story go through but after reading it I am changed. Page after page of heartache followed by hope. One characters journey to just be a great guy and another characters goal being to survive. The impact of horrific abuse is explored in this story in a way that shook me to my core. The idea that we never know what people are truly dealing with and even when we do helping them is not as easy as hollywood makes it seem. It sometimes is cliche to say but this book broke me down at points but built me up in others changed, hopefully more empathetic and focused on the struggles others may be silently suffering rather than my trivial struggles in comparison. After reading such a hard book at times I needed something up lifting. I finished Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder this afternoon while tanning by the pool (burning really). This book was a wonderful story that while I think not intentional could be great as an example to teachers in that we can’t teach all students the same. In reality themes around fear of change, friendship and family all loop over and over. Now how did it change me? One simple lesson, we are not always ready for change but if we wait to long we might do more harm than good, take a step and enjoy the adventure.
In 7 week I start a new adventure and I am excited. Hopefully I can be like Kylene and Bob, or Rae and Cory or Charlie and Mark or my Mom and Dad. Teachers that have all helped to change me, who I am as a teacher and who I am as a person. I hope to be that teacher for my students to come and hope I have been that teacher for my students past.
Now time to read a few more books!