Today was a great day. They can’t all be but today was a collection of those moments that just make you smile, that help you to appreciate the little things more.
I am reading the fantastic story Freak the Mighty with my class as we continue to work with signposts and build our independence in class. As I read today and they followed along with their text a voice popped up, “Mr.Gilson wasn’t that a Contrast and Contradiction” I followed up with why and the reasoning was sound. The engagement in the text was real. This one moment sparked many others to start shouting out signposts as we read or to bravely offer up their thoughts when asked. I am so absolutely grateful for those moments, where students don’t just demonstrate understanding, I can get that from a test, but when they demonstrate the joy of understanding a text in a different way. We were predicting, hypothesizing and sharing our thoughts and observations and everyone was involved. I love those moments.
Later in the day as we wrote “How to/Not to” writing assignments one student asked a powerful question, “Mr.Gilson, Why are people of other races always depicted as stereotypes in picture books?” While I know that not all are there is clearly not enough positive examples that can serve as mirrors for this student as she reads. She was writing about “How to be a racist” These moments put in to perspective the lack of resources we have for students of all colours and beliefs to see themselves in our classrooms. The book we read, the stories we share. They need to be more. If the only books we have with Asian characters are about immigrants or internment camps students will continue to see themselves as the other, constantly trying to find where they fit. When students teach me about their experience, those moments make me a better teacher.
A coworker said to me to that a student complained Notice and Note was going to kill his love for reading, I disagree but I am grateful for those moments too. The chance to discuss why we need to learn to read not just with our eyes and mind but also our heart. My students would not notice a change in themselves or a feeling for a character without the tools to help them see those things. My students would not have the bravery to point out that no stories look like them, that no characters that do look like them seem to be the hero, that they are not a stereotype and they wished the books showed that more. I am grateful for all those moments that I get to learn with my students and from them. Teaching is about so much more than just the delivery of information. It is about the joy in the journey. The smiles when we celebrate great observations, the sharing of books with each other before they ever get back to the shelves. The worn corners of a hardcover and those moments when a student just wants you to pick another book for them. Our days as teachers are filled with those moments when we choose to see them.
I am grateful for those moments.