When I read, I think about the present.
Where I sit.
What I feel.
Who I am.
When I read, I think about the past.
Where I was when I read it last.
How I felt the last time I read it.
Who I was all those days ago.
When I read, I think about the future.
Where will I be the next time I read it?
Will I feel differently?
Who will I be?
Katharyn Stong 9.1.16
Reading gives me life whether it be a newspaper article, a saying on a mural, a poem, or a 1400 page French novel.
I haven’t read nearly as much as my heart and mind have craved for. I was used to a professor telling me what to read for so long, when I graduated and no longer had a syllabus, reading seemed like an impossible feat. But slowly, as I have stepped out of the “English Major” identity and stepped into my current state, reading has taken a priority, not because I have time, or it’s a great pastime, but because it is cathartic.
“providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis.”
When I read Mary Oliver’s “When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention” I experience the words through my internal dialogue. I also experience the words through how they make me feel. Most importantly, I bond with Mary. Not because we have experienced the same things, but because I can empathize with her words, share in her grief; celebrate in her joy.
And through that bond, she walks with me through life.
Not because she knows me, but because she is there when I need her. My books are there when I need something to pick me up; when I need to forget about what ever else is happening and be still, when I want to share the good day I had.
I have rejoiced in my students’ knack for creativity; their ability to write a story with their vocabulary words and send me to outer space, their ability to pretend they are in the Ramayana in a Back To The Future: Part 4 world; their ability to analyze their Free Reading Book and describe the setting in so much detail it evokes my five senses.
They are creative. They are brave. They are vulnerable. They are honest.
My goal with my students now that I have seen what they are capable of is to give them the freedom to take a non-specific prompt and run with it.
When I ask my 5th graders for a paragraph, they don’t need to ask “how many sentences?” because they already have that knowledge in their Toolbox.
When I ask my 10th graders to write a letter to my grandmother after she recorded a greeting and they saw it, they can create something without me specifically telling them what they need.
When I ask my 11th graders to debate whether divorce in the Philippines should be legal, they can work well together in and out of class to create something great.
Because that is what they are. Great. So by happenstance, whatever they create will be great.
You’re grades don’t make you, you. You make you, you.
Because in the end, we are all creatures of our God and King. We are beloved, bright, and gifted individuals.
Books are my inspiration. My hope and prayer is that I can support my students as they find theirs.