Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Love Withstands the Test of Time … Even for Readers #SOL18
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Slice of Life: Love Withstands the Test of Time … Even for Readers #SOL18

This weekend I had the privilege of hearing my husband’s aunt give her husband’s eulogy.  It was truly a gift to everyone in attendance to hear her celebrate his life, their life, their love.  She ended by sharing her appreciation for having lived a life filled with love, laughter, and kindness.

I can truly say the joy we felt on the first day of our marriage was as deep as the joy we felt on the last day of our marriage.

How many of us can say that about anything?  To think that on what could be seen as one of the worst days, saying goodbye to the love of your life, they felt joy.  They chose to see the positive and be in the moment together.  They chose to feel the joy to honor the love they shared.

I have not been able to get that image of joy on the first and last day of their marriage being the same out of my mind.  It is following me through my days and working its way into my every thought. How did this joy withstand the test of time?  What does it take to live that kind of a life?  How do you feel joy equally when you are experiencing pain?

For some reason, the words grit and stamina keep popping into my head and it feels so wrong. I am trying to make sense of why I am associating a eulogy celebrating love and joy with grit and stamina.  I think it is because these are the words I am hearing in classrooms these early weeks of school in reference to becoming a lifelong reader.  We are building our stamina.  Grit helps us meet our goals. We are reading longer and stronger – three minutes more than last week.  While I don’t disagree with any of these words or practices, I am left thinking about what is missing.  I am not sure grit and stamina are the characteristics that will inspire lifelong reading.

If we want the reading life of a student to withstand the test of time we must ask ourselves if we are giving her/him the space she/he needs to fall in love with reading.  We must ask ourselves: Do we teach for joy?  Do we slow down so they can get lost in their reading life?  Are we focusing on helping them be passionate readers as much as proficient readers?

The research would suggest we are not.

Our students are notwithstanding the test of time when it comes to reading.  If we increase their proficiency without thought to their passion what good is that?  They do need to read more.  They do need to practice skills and strategies.  They do need to experience different types of texts.  But more than anything, they need to fall in love with reading.  We need to ask ourselves if we are inspiring our students to have a reading life that will be filled with as much joy on the first day as the last day.  Are we committed to helping them fall in love with reading so that love can see them through good times and hard times?  Do we value the relationship they have with reading as much as their achievement?

I left the church on Saturday reflecting on so many aspects of my life.  It seems regardless of the aspect of life I am thinking about, the answer is the same.  Love withstands the test of time.  As parents, spouses, friends, teachers, and readers, love is what will keep us experiencing joy and connection.  I hope we are giving our students a love of learning, a love of community, and a love of life.  It may not be in the standards.  It may not be measurable.  But I think it will make all the difference in how they live life.

Clare

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.    

2 Comments
  • Michelle Haseltine
    Posted at 10:10h, 02 October Reply

    Balance. That’s what I was thinking as I was reading your post. You made me stop in my tracks. I talk about grit and stamina at the beginning of the year. Do I focus on JOY enough? I believe it. I completely agree with you. Am I sending the same message to my students?!?! THANK YOU!!! You reminded me of the value of JOY in the classroom!

  • Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 23:36h, 02 October Reply

    I wasn’t sure where you were going when you first started in with stamina and grit, and I wasn’t sure I was going to agree, which I don’t think has EVER happened when I’ve read one of your posts, and then you went down exactly the route I hoped you would. We SO need to teach for love and joy. Otherwise, what’s the point? Thank you. Beautiful connection.

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