Monthly Archives: August 2017
I think everyone has had at least one time in their life where they would like to have a wish granted. When I turned 40, I wanted a chance to stop “adulting” for a day. So that’s what we did. My (at the time) soon-to-be husband and I hopped on a train and headed into NYC. Our first stop was the NY Public Library’s main branch on Fifth Avenue—the branch with those iconic lions out front. Walking through the front doors always causes me to stop and take pause. It’s a building full of possibility. On this day, I had to pause and figure out how to get to the children’s room. Yep, I was taking this non-adulting thing seriously. Actually, I was on my way to see the original Winnie the Pooh (and the gang). We spent some time there looking at that “silly old bear;” I recounted my favorite Pooh tales and explained how one plays Pooh Sticks, and then we headed off down Fifth Avenue.
September 1 marks the start of my 25th year teaching middle school. In two different districts and three different middle schools, highly qualified ceritification, standards, benchmarking, and state testing, one thing has been constant: work family. Each school I’ve been in has focused on creating a work family. Sometimes, the family is more dysfunctional than others, but through it all, we’re there supporting each other. We celebrate the good times, we mourn losses, we hold each other up.
Because I’ve been reading a lot about classroom libraries, I’ve been making a conscious effort to add books to my room that represent all of my students. I’ll be honest, teaching in a predominantly white, middle/upper-middle class school, I wasn’t sure how students would respond, but not all of my students were white, upper-middle class, Christian, heterosexual people. Not all of my students had families that were “normal.” And so, I started listening more closely to students talk about books like Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Rules by Cynthia Lord , or Wonder by RJ Palacio. I began to have conversations with my students when I thought about adding a book like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseBenjamin and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz to the class library. I took their suggestions when they recommended books to me. I asked them about favorite characters, especially when the books they were reading had characters who were no cis-gendered, mainstream people.
As I’ve watched the events in Charlottesville unfold, I’ve been struggling to process it. I first read about what was happening yesterday morning via Pantsuit Nation. A law student at UVA recounted her experience arriving on campus Friday (8/11/17) evening to a procession of white men carrying torches and chanting, “You will not replace us” and “White lives matter.” The student, identified as Elizabeth Ann, felt that she and her friend needed to document what was happening. They kept their distance and videoed the procession. The video is chilling to watch. She then recounts that there were about 10 students holding signs reading “UVA Students Against White Supremecy.” The white terrorists surrounded the students and then began to attack them. Elizabeth Ann goes on to talk about how frightened she was and despite her fear, she planned to protest the rally on Saturday. She states, “These nazi groups are emboldened when met with little opposition. We need as many protestors here tomorrow as possible; there is strength in numbers, as well as safety. I’m scared, of course I am, but I will be there tomorrow because I have a duty to be. As a white person, I know it is easier for me to occupy this space safely than persons of color. I’m going to show up for all of the people who cannot.”
At the start of the summer, I signed up for a NetGalley account. Quite honestly, I didn’t think I’d be approved for an account, but I figured my role as an ELA teacher and YA blogger might help. I was quickly approved, found myself requesting titles, and then I waited. The first book I requested was rejected. I figured, “Oh well.” I certainly have a million and two titles sitting here to read. My friend Kate
is an enabler recommends great YA for me to read and passes along ARCs for my classroom. I certainly wasn’t going to go without books to read.