One of my munchkins is all about dates and calendars and birthdates (I mean, as am I, but he can memorize them waaaaaay better). The class calendar is always the first thing he looks at in the morning, and I’m pretty sure he’s the only one who updates it daily. When I fixed the calendar for February, he was of course inspecting it immediately upon arrival, and called across the room to tell me that I forgot to put Rosa Parks’ birthday.
“Oh, I did! When is it?”
“February 4th. Sunday.”
“Cool! You can add it to the calendar,” I said.
“I did,” he answered, matter-of-fact. Of course he did!
So then when we went over the calendar all together later, it was already there. And the kids kind of just assumed it was a holiday.
I began this year by changing classrooms. I'm not sure that changing classrooms is ever a fun or easy undertaking, but I went into this move with mostly good feelings. I'd spend the past year sharing a large room with a co-teacher, in which we tried valiantly to run two classes in a space partially separated by a movable divider, occupied by many children and many paras. We did our level best, but it was crowded and busy and never quiet. My new room is actually my old room, where I first started my career ten Septembers ago, and it was a strange sensation to go back into this deeply familiar space as a very different person and teacher.
The move also gave me a specific and wonderful opportunity. As I launched The Liberatory Library here, and at school in my teaching practice, I also got to launch it intentionally in our space. I spent several long August days unpacking and sorting and arranging and rearranging and decorating, and the result makes me happy every day. Even as I continue tweaking and altering, as my kids and I live in the space and bring it alive. So, here's what I walked into in August:
Ugh. Click to read more, and see the lovely "after." (And the scary cat painting.)
Ahhh, I started this post more than a month ago!! School life really is a whirlwind. I'm so glad that I started this blog over the summer, when I had time to devote to launching it, but I want to find more time to write now that we're back to the real world.
The year so far has been so much! Mostly great and exciting and happening, with sprinkles of magic and hiccups of frustration here and there. I have SO MANY things to write about, including:
To be honest, I made that list as a reminder to myself of all the things I want to write about. For now, I'm going to start with our reading life. There will be some cute photos, and much geeking out.
I have to say, I made pretty good progress on my summer reading list...especially the kidlit/YA list. The adult list did not fare as well, and there are two serious-looking novels that I checked out of the library sitting on the table looking at me right now. Ah well! Kidlit is too much fun! Find part two of my summer reading (and the next-ups) below.
Our teaching should encourage students to ask critical questions of our world. It should prize activism and struggle, and also kindness, joy, and cooperation — a curriculum of empathy that builds essential academic skills and powerful understandings. It’s a time for audacity in our work, not timidity.
I thought it would be best to have this in a separate post from this one with some of my reflections on white supremacy. Below, you can find a number of resources that I found challenging, comforting, inspiring, and helpful, in various and powerful combinations, in the weeks since the events in Charlottesville. Some quotes and annotations will give you an idea what you'll find in each link. It got so long, I just couldn't help it. Even if you don't read all of the articles, there are some really spectacular quotes to check out; the one at the top is a teaser, so you'll keep reading!
In all honesty, I don't know what to write following Charlottesville and walking in this place where a curtain over white supremacy has been lifted, and there's a lot of ugliness staring us in the face. So instead of trying to actually write, the first thing I did was to start compiling resources that amazing folks were posting all over, thinking that I could contribute by sharing them. That's fine, and you can find a bunch of links in this post, and I hope you find them as helpful and as inspiring as I do. But even though it's hard to know what to say, it feels it's more dangerous, and more cowardly, not to even try. So here I go.
I'm coming to terms with the fact that reading kidlit is just my favorite thing, and that I don't only do it for research purposes. Middle grade novels are my happy place, and there is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF OUT THERE! Sorry for shouting, it's just that I want to read (and share) all the books. That said, here's some of what I've gotten into so far this summer.
Okay, here we go! Welcome to The Liberatory Library! I'm venturing into the world of websites, blogs, and social media with a purpose: to talk and learn about education as the practice of freedom (thank you, bell hooks). I'm thinking about literacy instruction, the workshop model, student voice, and special education, and I'm also thinking about how all of that intersects with social justice and social change, with celebrating diversity and combating racism, with mindfulness and intentional teaching. AND I'm thinking about how to do so with JOY!
This is a brand new endeavor, but here are three things I think you'll find here:
Meanwhile, Happy Summer!
Writing about practicing literacy and freedom with my small humans.