We stood staring at Plymouth Rock yesterday marveling at the history it represents. At what it means for this nation that I have adopted as my home. As we turned around we saw the statue of Massasoit, Chief of the Wampanoag tribe, on the hill, peering out to sea. His image followed me into the car and I finally asked my husband, “Why on the hill?” Why not right next to this monument that marks what many consider the beginning of America? How many people miss this part of the story, marvel at the survival skills of those early Pilgrims, and do not think of the rest of the story; the other part of this complicated history of America? Surely you must understand both sides to truly see the bigger picture…
It reminds me of my own work; how often do we, as teachers, just see the obvious? The traits that show up on the very first day, that dominate our conversations and we never find the time to dig deeper? We never “hike up the hill” to take a closer look at what we think lurks right there but that is hidden from view at first? We don’t have time, we have so many kids, we have so much to do, and so our story continues single-mindedly for many of our students no matter the glimpses we see?
As many of us prepare to hand off our kids to the next team of teachers, may we find the time to tell the full story. To sure, share the dominant things we have seen, but also the things that may be so easily seen. To not tell the full story of a child in just data. To not tell the full story of a child in just their behaviors. To not tell the full story of a child in just the obvious, but dig a little deeper. To make sure that our narrative is nuanced, balanced, and hopeful. To give those teachers waiting to make a difference a chance at who this kid really is and not just the things that may have been the main talking point all year.
I think of the power we hold as the previous teachers of these kids. Of how we decide what gets shared. Of how we decide what is told. Of how we decide what to focus on and we pass that on to the teachers that do not know them yet. So tell the full story, and if you don’t have the full story yet find it before it is too late. I know I still have work to do.
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 to infuse global collaboration into their curriculum, was just released. I am currently working on a new literacy book, called Passionate Readers and it will be published in the summer of 2017 by Routledge.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. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.