“Are we reading today?” A child asks as the bell rings.
Usually my answer would be obvious, of course, but today we had speeches to get through and so reading would wait. I tell him so and he says, “Good, because I hate reading…”
How often does this scene play out in our classrooms. I know it has been playing out in here since September 1st, sometimes multiple times in a day. Sometimes new voices join the chorus or nod their head vigorously. I hate reading too, and so they bond in their shared hatred.
I smiled at the boy in question yesterday and I asked him, “Do you hate reading as much as you did on the first day of school?”
To which he answered, “No…”
This is the small moment I live for.
This is a victory beyond belief.
This is progress. He may not be a convert, sometime the kids never are, but his opinion has changed. His mindset has changed. If even just the slightest.
Too often we look for the big wins. The kids who declare that we are the best teacher they ever had. That this is their favorite class above them all. That reading , or doing math, or experiencing science, or whatever you love so much is their most favorite thing to do in the whole world, now.
But the reality is that those big wins don’t happen very often. Those big life changing moments for a child don’t always come in school. Or they don’t tell us about them.
But when this kid shared his truth with me, knew that his words were safe, knew that although I had not converted him he had changed his mind just a little, that is what I aim for; growth, change, giving something a chance.
Too often we feel like failures, like we are not enough because we the kids have not grown enough. Have not come far enough. This is what happens when we only look for the big moments. You will wear yourself out chasing them. So instead, look for the small victories. Look for the truths being shared. Look for the child that perhaps still hates whatever you are doing but hates it just a little less. This is what change is built on. This is what it means to teach; finding the small victories and realizing that what we do makes a difference even if we don’t see it every day.
If you like what you read here, consider reading any of my books; the newest called Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, a how-to guide for those who would like infuse global collaboration into their curriculum, was just released. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. I am currently working on a new literacy book, called Passionate Readers and it will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge. I also have a new book coming out December, 2017 . Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.
1 thought on “Small Victories”
My students figure out very quickly how passionate I am about their reading. I have had the very same successes you mention in this post, and it is truly incredibly rewarding when a former” reluctant reader” now comes in and is disappointed if we are NOT reading as soon as they walk in!