I am currently sitting in an airport waiting to make the last leg of my trip home from the ILA (International Literacy Association) conference. Through delays and a long day of travel, I have had time to reflect on the impact of this conference. I think the best way to describe it is a big hug and “go get ‘em” pat on the back from the professional literacy community! If you are involved in literacy in any way in your schools and have not been to one of these conferences, I highly encourage you to attend one.
First, the opening speakers were nothing less than inspiring. To hear there are courts ruling that being literate in our country is not a basic right is not o.k. We heard those speaking telling us that we still have a lot of fighting to do when it comes to literacy, as well as education, in our country. When we think, “Well, this is just the way things are,” in response to any injustice, we have just legitimized the injustice. In the end, we need to make sure we are forging the relationships with others who will help us to create a better system for the children in our country. However, in order to do that, we need to shake things up. We need to rattle the proverbial cages of those in charge and let them know a change is urgent and needed. As Cornelius Minor said, “If we are tied to yesterday’s doctrine, we will not make schools work.” It is time to rise and create schools where all children are welcomed, all children are cared for by ALL adults in the school, and all children are given a fair chance to succeed. These thoughts were just the opening of the conference. Each session through the rest of the two days helped those attending to accomplish the goals laid out in the opening comments.
Being in the realm of literacy, I asked myself, “How can I address each one of these things. What is in my power to change?” I may not be able to change my whole school in the blink of an eye, but I can start in my classroom. I can make sure I always have an environment where students feel safe and valued. Their thoughts and comments are listened to and given merit. I learned so many little tips to help facilitate discussion and give voice to students. Above all, I hope to foster and develop a love of reading and help my students see reading as a way to escape to a different world, hear the stories or others, and discover the world around them. I want them to see reading not as a chore, but a gift that is given to us in order to broaden our minds and lives.
If I can keep these goals in the forefront of my mind and teaching, I believe we will have a successful year and my students will come out of my classroom a little bit better than when they went in.
With that being said…