What we, as educators, have lived in the last three months has been something we never could have imagined. I, a kindergarten teacher in a highly diverse school in Maine, was shaken to my core and pushed in all new ways. I was teaching in a way I would never have signed up for. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I was teaching at all. It felt like I was doing everything I could to make sure my students and their families were safe, had food, and knew I was here if they needed me. The thought of teaching new content, or even reviewing old content was beyond what was realistic for the majority of my children. I found myself digging into my core, into the why behind what I do.
At times it was hard to find that why, sitting alone in my house staring at my computer screen in a moment when I would be sitting on my alphabet rug, surrounded by my kids reading books, listening to them, being with them. I found myself thinking “This isn’t what I am meant to do. This isn’t my purpose.”
You see, none of us had a choice going into this. The reality is, we are likely going into another round of distance teaching in the fall. This summer I have to do what I can to remember my why. While the way we teach will be different still, our why remains the same.
This summer I plan to go back and reread the books that made me. From books that I read as a young reader, to books that made me make major decisions about grad school and life, I am building a stack that brings me back to my why.
As I built this stack to take the picture, I realized just how critical it is that I also work hard to build a stack for a better future. I will be intentional about including the voices of People of Color in my reading to inform my teaching but also to inform my living. In recent years I have included more POC voices in my reading but this stack of books from my past shows just how necessary this work is.
I, as a teacher and a person, am committed to make sure voices are lifted, heard, and shared. I am aware that I’m not fully aware of how much work is to be done, however, I am ready to work under the direction of the many incredible leaders in this movement. I’m ready to do what needs to be done.
May we work to surround all children with books that represents the beautiful, diverse reality of our world so that the stacks that build them are representative of the better, equal future we are building for them.
This summer, I will read through a stack that brings me back to my why and build a stack that better informs and redefines my why for ALL of my kids.