Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Preparing to Teach: To Enter Into A Yearly Journey

First, a disclaimer: I didn't invent that phrase "to enter into a yearly journey" to describe teaching high school. I swiped it from a woman named Anglica Q., on the website Ignatian Spirituality.  You see, "Ignatian spirituality,sees God as actively involved in the world and intimately involved with us in every moment and place." Yup!

Angelica Q.  tweeted:

"I find God in my service as an educator--in the eyes of my students with whom I 
enter into a yearly journey.

I stole her description it because it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about teaching high school, and about the learning communities I try to cultivate each year in my classes. 

August looms. I am closing my summer reading books, finishing two graduate school classes, and preparing to teach two new courses: American Literature and American History. This book is in my purse.

Warriors Don't Cry is a first-person narrative about the integration of the Little Rock, Arkansas public schools in 1954 following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. the Board of Education case in which the court declared the tradition of "separate but equal public schools" for whites and blacks is unconstitutional. Reviews say Melba Patillo Beals' book "brings history to life." Beals was one of nine black children dubbed the "Little Rock Nine," who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Well, I've only read the introduction so far, while waiting in the car line to pick our 13-year-old up from his acting camp. I guess I'm no warrior because by the time he got in the car, I was crying. (This came as no surprise to Lucas. "So, it's a good book?" he asked)

I've never been to Arkansas. I was moved by Beals' words because I spent a week this summer in Alabama, tracing the footsteps of part of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The presence of those fighting souls was palpable, as is Beals' voice in this book. 

Angelica Q.'s quote struck me because teaching is a privilege. I truly learn as much from my students as they do from me. It is an encounter and yes, we journey together. 

Linking with Cari's What We're Reading Wednesday.

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