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a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, July 10, 2016

CELEBRATE 7.10.16

When Penny Kittle spoke at All-Write, she referred to an episode of the This American Life podcast called “Tell Me I’m Fat.” 

In this podcast, Lindy West talks about an experience where she discovers her boss is writing blog posts that include fat-shaming jokes and language.  In response to this incident, West asked herself, “Do I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight?”

Kittle urged us to consider this question as teachers.  It is a question that is weighing heavily on my heart this summer.

Do I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight?

I consider these words when I think about new curriculum mandates like 2 days a week of Achieve 3000, 5 days a week of Calkins Units of Study in Writing, new one to one devices, and implementation of a Great Books Roundtable pilot.  What will my students no longer have time to do? Are these resources the most valuable use of time?  What am I willing to let go of?  What am I willing to fight to hold on to?

Do I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight?

I consider these words when I think about recent dinner conversation with colleagues about banning controversial (but age appropriate) reading material in classrooms. 

Do I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight?

I consider these words when I think about recent events in the news.  Too many black lives lost.  Too many police lives lost.  Too many lives lost. 

Do I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight?

No.  I do NOT want to be the kind of person who doesn’t fight for what I believe.  For what I value.  For what is good. 

So, I will hold tight my students’ free choice reading time because I believe in the power of story. 

Story changes lives. 

Story saves lives. 

The best way—for many kids, the only way—to get story into the hands, heads, and hearts of my students is to support free choice independent reading time in the classroom. 

How did the choice to allow students to read freely become a fight?  I am not sure.  But I am sure it is a fight worth fighting.  It is the only way I know to create a better world.  The thought of a better world is a thought worth celebrating.  And that makes my heart lighter.

5 comments:

  1. I'm so glad. Kids and doing what's right by them and the world we care so much about ARE worth fighting for. Bravo! We are all faced more and more by the question you voiced so well here and its my sincerest hope that we will all elect to fight the good fight.

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  2. I keep re-reading your post, wanting to commit this truth to memory. Thank-you for expressing the real heartbeat of a worldly issue. Trying to hide from the ugliness of life versus living and learning ... and in the end, hopefully being stronger because of it.

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  3. I'm glad I stopped by and read your post.

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  4. When life get twirling with too many things, the best thing to do is to pause and consider what is essential. This is what is worth fighting for. You know what your students need, and fighting for what's best for them is part of your core.

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  5. I loved reading your words. I've been questioning my role in all of the recent violence and wondering how I can make the world a better place. Thank you for helping me continue my reflection. This time of year really has me stopping to think, especially about what kind of teacher I want to be for the coming year. Thanks for encouraging me by asking some tough questions I need to consider.

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