Saturday, June 27, 2009


I was interviewed recently and asked, "Why did you become a teacher?" At the time, I rattled off a fairly standard answer. . . something like: "I have always loved learning, and I love sharing this love with children. I love seeing the light in a child's eyes when she has a relevant, important question or when she solves a problem. "

This is all true.

Upon reflection and after reviewing the photos from yesterday's visit to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, I've had a few more thoughts. I love being a teacher because I am constantly amazed at the world around us-- at people, trees, animals, history, poetry, culture, you name it-- The World Around Us in capital, italicized letters. When I became a teacher, I didn't know that I was going to love it so much. It was a practical decision. I had a library degree and needed a part-time job because of my children. I knew that I would teach in some capacity as a librarian, but I did not not know that it would be like this.

There is so much to see, share, and do every day, all the time, just out the back door or through the words, photos, and illustrations of a book (or blog!). There is so much joy. I am a teacher because of the joy.

In all of the photos above, we spent time looking in the museum's amazing space that lets us get up close to the fish, snakes, turtles, alligators, and jellyfish (new!). I spent an equal amount of time watching my children watch the creatures in the tanks (and trying to keep up with them). Being a teacher is often about "just keeping up"-- either with the busyness of teaching or with the passionate questions and pace of children who lead us down diverse paths of inquiry in the course of one day.

For example:
  • "Mrs. Owen, do you have any books on presidents (or bees, or soccer, or _______)?"
  • "Ms. Library Lady, I'm interested in mystery books. Do you have any good mystery (or fantasy, or historical fiction, or fairy tale, or _____) books?"
  • "Mama, what kind of lizard is that outside on the lantana bushes? Why are the lizards that congregate at our front entrance during the night pale pink? Are they the same lizards?"
  • "Mama, what book should I read tonight? I finished the last one, and I want another one like it."
The answers that are discovered and recorded from questions of free inquiry are those that often happen in a library or rest in a library between the pages of a book or on a website. To me, this is an awesome, again joyful, thought. This is my job-- I'm a facilitator and guide through free inquiry and freedom in education! Ultimately, a library is and should be a place of joyful freedom. When so much in education is driven by curriculum, pacing guides, benchmarks, and standards, libraries should be places where children (and adults) have the freedom to choose what they want to read and what questions need answering.

In the last photo, I was sitting in the area of the museum where the alligators are on display. I noticed my reflection on the tank and took a photo, in a moment of self-reflection, that is perfectly appropriate for this morning.

Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

Sarah Campbell said...

Yes, the joy! I love the photo of the two-headed snake on the kids' blog.