"Your spark can become a flame and change everything."
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
The other day, a colleague who works with some of my students, providing reading support, relayed a story. She said my students told her, "Mrs. Sokolowski has that book. She has so many books. She really, really loves to read."
The story was a sunbeam piercing through the storm clouds of doubt, rolling through my mind about all the ways I am getting it wrong in the classroom.
I could make an extensive list of all the things I need to change and fix. But, perhaps, the one thing I am getting right is my students believe me to be a person who loves reading. Of course, they are right- I am a person who loves reading. I hug the book when I finish reading it, and sigh the sigh of a person who has just experienced something exquisitely beautiful. My throat catches as I read the last pages of The One and Only Ivan. I fill our classroom with books and magazines and poems. I post the book I am reading outside the door. I've told them that I believe reading makes you a better person and all the reasons I know that to be true. I've filled our blogging prize basket (for the kids who have earned badges during the Classroom SOLSC) with different books and literacy items. When we visit the school library, I always browse the stacks and borrow books. They watch me.
In teaching, there's the what, and the how, and the why. Sometimes, I think I need to get better at the what and the how- the technical aspects, the small group lessons, the specific strategies to teach a reader, the ways to utilize the reader's notebook effectively, the organization of conferring notes. But, the thing I've got down is the WHY- the reason to learn the strategies in the first place, what makes it all worthwhile- why we do this thing called "reading".
In a sea of doubt, with an ever-growing mental list of the the areas where I need to improve, my students know that I am a reader and I love to read- an anchor in that sea, grounding me with hope that I am doing more good than I know.