Saturday, August 13, 2016

I'm reading to you for them.

My heart is heavy as the school year is about to start without me.  I have spent the past three years as "Teacher," and the last two in Middle School, which I think must be a special calling of mine.  So many people don't enjoy this age group so the fact that I find them delightful must mean something.  In a way, it is peaceful not having to get into the hustle and bustle of preparing for students.  At the same time it just feels strange.  This year instead of planning lessons, building relationships with my students, and grading papers I will be changing diapers, snuggling my baby, and planning ways to leave the house so I don't lose my mind.  Even though I believe that I am choosing the highest good for my young family, I will miss my students this year.  I will miss my brightly decorated classroom filled with supplies designed to encourage active learning.  I will miss being a professional and having important people respect and believe in my work.  I doubt my new "boss" will give me that kind of affirmation.  I will miss doing something that I am good at, something that I love.

The other day I watched with glee as my husband read to our newborn.  He is always looking for a way to interact with the little guy.  I feel connected to Emerson through nurturing, but Philip wants to bond with him through play.  He's tried doing tummy time.  He also puts E's toys near his hands and waits for him to grab hold.  And he reads to our son.  As Philip pointed to the pictures and read with expression I couldn't help but think of them--my students.  "How many of them have ever had this experience?"  I wondered.

 The district I worked in is low-income.  Many students have parents who don't speak English.  Many of their parents work long into the night just to be able to put food on the table.  Reading time can't be a priority when you are focused on survival.  Or when you can't read yourself.  So many of my students struggle to read.  They say they hate reading.  They would rather stare at a book and pretend to absorb it than actually take the time to sound out each word.  Over half of my seventh graders last year were reading at a third-grade level or below.  I did everything I could think of to make reading fun, engaging, and accessible to them.  But you can't replace the experience that Emerson is having right now.  The magic of sitting on Mom or Dad's lap as the words become enchanted and the stories come to life.

So, Emerson, we will keep reading.  Not just for you, but for them.  I am reading to you for all of those kids who don't get to have that experience.  I am reading to you so that, hopefully, you won't have to struggle through English (and through many other subjects because it turns out they all require you to read) like my students.  I am reading to you so that you won't feel stupid.  I am reading to you so that you will be able to find the joy of books.  I am reading to you so that you will have the confidence to take risks in learning.  I am reading to you, for them.

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