Be kind, work hard, with joy, freedom, and hope.
This has been a work week for me-- back at school-- back in the library-- with all the basement critters including many, many spiders and a small Mediterranean house gecko living in a box of random papers. I don't want to know about the critters I didn't see.
Even though this work week is hard because of childcare issues, I love this week of being with my fellow teachers and preparing the school for the new year. There are vibes of hope, excitement, and jitters coursing through the air. Teachers, too, get the jitters on the first day!
I've created a teaching and learning "motto" for the year. The first part, "be kind, work hard" comes from Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair is On Fire and famous for his yearly classroom of Hobart Shakespeareans. I was lucky to hear him speak two years ago. His motto is simple: "Be Nice. Work Hard."
I pledge to be kind to my students. I pledge to work hard to be prepared and do my part of the teaching/learning equation. I expect the same from my students.
The qualifiers of my motto, "with joy, freedom, and hope" describe how I most like to teach and how I most like to learn. They describe how I want to feel when I walk into my library and how I hope the students feel when they visit me twice a week. They describe how I feel when I am able to choose a wonderful book, open its cover, and experience growth and change through words strung together on the pages. It's magical really. Hmm. . . maybe I should add "with magic."
If a library is anything, it should be a place of joy, freedom, and hope. This is not to say that information we discover or things that happen in stories will not make us weep or make our blood boil with anger. These are emotions I have often felt when reading books. But because I have been changed by reading and feeling these emotions and because I know that there is more than sadness and anger from reading, I feel more hope than despair-- more joy than bitterness.
The photo above is of a bookshelf in my family room at home. We have quite an assortment. When I peruse the titles, I am reminded of who I have been and wonder at who I have become.
More than anything, I want to share a love reading with my students. I want them to have a shelf full of books in their homes-- and in their minds and hearts-- that will always remind them of who they once were and where they are going. I want them to find joy in reading and learning. I want them to experience the freedom to read what they want to read. I want them to know how reading transforms a soul and a life with hope.