This morning while reading Penny Kittle’s book Book Love I had a momentary crisis of faith and asked myself if I honestly wanted to be a teacher. I just didn’t think I was up for the task of teaching high school students to love English when most everyone I talk to tells me English was their worst subject in high school (this excludes those in my English classes). I always told myself that was the goal-change the way high schoolers view English. Am I really up for the task when I myself struggle to understand Russian Lit.? If I cannot comprehend what I am reading how am I supposed to teach my students? I continued to lament my life choices until I read the story of Crystal and it all came back into focus. Crystal is the reason I want to teach. I want to reach those students whom everyone else has given up on. I want to help those students who have no one else to turn to. Next to family and friends teachers are usually the one constant in a student’s life. Teachers see those students every day in the hallways and in the classrooms. I want to be that one constant. I want to convince them that yes they can finish high school and yes they can follow their dreams. I want to teach them that English isn’t so bad and reading can open up a whole new world.
I am such an avid lover of books I think the biggest challenge I will face as a teacher is knowing when to let a student give up on a book and picking a read aloud the whole class will like. I had grand plans of books I wanted to read aloud to my students but I after reading Book Love and discussing books with my classmates I am finding that my opinion is changing. I love the line “Students remember what they do and what they discover, not what they are told” (Kittle, 121). This is true for everyone, including me. I remember better when I actually get to do something rather than being told the information. Students read better and understand deeper when they discover the content for themselves rather than having someone tell it to them. I struggle with this a lot in one of my English courses, just letting my professor tell me what the story is saying instead of trying to figure it out on my own. I find that when I do understand what I am reading before my professor speaks that it sticks with me better.
I love the idea of creating a map of literature. Making connections is so important. It reminds me of a poetry course I took. We studied poets starting back in the 1800’s and working our way up through the 80’s. It was great because I was able to see history through the words of those poets, who actually experienced life instead of trying to write about it after the fact.
“It is the journey that lasts, not necessarily the particular book” (Kittle 123). I love this quote so much. I currently have a canvas hanging in my room that says “The Journey is the Destination” because it really is all about the journey. The journey is where you learn and grow and ultimately ends up becoming the destination. The journey got you where you wanted to be.
Reading is a journey especially if you struggle with reading. I know I struggle with reading outside of my comfort zone and this last week I read a book that was half and half. It was a fantasy novel which is totally in my comfort zone but it featured a two gay boys. That is just not in my comfort zone but I loved this book and I love Simon and Baz’s relationship. Rainbow Rowell was able to put me out of my comfort zone while keeping me in my comfort zone. I absolutely loved Carry On and once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. So it is going to be a journey but for me that is the destination and I cannot wait.