It’s cold. Not to be a whiner, but . . . We moved into a new house during the hot Texas summer. The air conditioner worked. We thought we were good. Then, this month, finally, cool weather. Cooler and cooler. The temperature drops, drops, drops. “Guess what?” he says, “Uh, about the heater. We never turned the gas on.”
I sit here with my hot herbal tea steaming beside me and the electric blanket warming my feet as a portable space heater I found in the garage radiates from across the room. One call and the heater will toast up the house in no time.
I know others aren’t so lucky. So fortunate. So blessed. Shall we say — so privileged?
Perhaps that’s simplifying it. I know.
I’ve spent my career teaching in Title 1 schools. A warm place to write is often not even on my students’ lists of worries. I’ve thought about my privilege, a white woman educator, helping children of color grow as readers and writers. I’ve rewritten and revised countless lessons all with the earnest desire to give my students what I have always taken for granted.
I know that is not enough. Not enough if I want systemic change for all children everywhere. The more I learn the more I learn how little I know.
This tweet was pivotal to my understanding:
What does this mean for me as an educator? What does this mean for the approach I take to selecting texts, to engaging readers, to fostering writers, to facilitating classroom discussion, to advocating for students in my realm of influence?
At NCTE this year, some of us on this blog team will present on how we are Raising Student Voice: Speaking Out for Equity and Justice.
I am still working on my 10 minutes. (I know. I know! NCTE starts on Thursday!) But here’s what I am thinking —
For those of us who advocate for choice independent reading, we often quote Rudine Sims Bishop’s thoughts on books being mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. (I quote her in this post I wrote last week.) I wonder how often we think about our students’ writing with a similar lens.
Do we empower writers the same way we hope choice empowers them as readers?
We should. We can.
I think I have a little of it figured out. If you will be at NCTE, I hope you will come join the conversation.
Amy Rasmussen loves her work with teachers and teenagers. She binge watches a lot of Netflix originals with her best-friend husband and reads a lot of YA lit. Her recent reading favorites: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacilagupi, and Swing by Kwame Alexander. And the teaching book she’s most excited to dig into if it ever comes in the mail: We Got This by Cornelius Minor. (We are honored to have Mr. Minor chair our session!)