The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 21




\The Magical Kingdom of Mathical Books: An Introduction for Teachers

Helpfulness--Teachers, we need each other. Each day, we give it our best shot, but sometimes we still come up short. It’s okay to get something wrong and to struggle; however, it is not okay to dwell in defeat. Collaborating with other educators to find solutions often leads to great success. Share insight and share expertise. Offer help, solutions, and encouragement to one another. When we seek opportunities to serve and help others, we often find a spark of joy within our own hearts. Let us consider Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. This classic story is a beautiful depiction of what it means to be helpful. First, Charlotte the spider does all she can to help keep Wilber the pig from meeting his demise. Her wit and helpfulness save Wilber’s life as she risks her own. In the end, he returns the favor by saving Charlotte’s babies allowing for her legacy to continue. Like in this hopeful example, we need to be mindful and recognize when someone might be struggling. We should offer a hand, a smile, or an encouraging word. We can help cover an extra duty for a colleague, help staple up a bulletin board, or buy them a soda during their plan time. There are many ways to help each other, if we are willing to jump in and offer to do so.

O is for opportunities, optimism, and having an open mind.

Opportunities--Standards and curriculum have not changed, but our culture has through this pandemic. It seems as though when we were forced to shut down our society, we also shut down opportunities. So what can educators do to open ourselves back up as our society begins to open back up? Begin with intentionally seeking opportunities that will create unity and harmony among students and staff. We also need to look for opportunities to create connections of encouragement with students and families. Additionally, we need to find opportunities to help ourselves continue to grow in our profession. Opportunities involve taking advantage of the moments we’ve been offered. We each have THIS day, so make the most of it. We need to remember who we are...TEACHERS...and to remember what we’ve been given...a group of students who need us today.

Optimism-- Remember The Little Engine That Could? The littlest engine was able to complete its task because of its “can do” attitude. Teachers, we can benefit from this message found in literature, as well. These recent struggles have reminded me to have an “I can do this” attitude, that for too long has been hidden under a stack of files on my teacher desk! The media would have us believe that the world is in chaos. Messages to evoke fear and anxiety are prevalent. Yet, more so than any other profession we know of, educators are resilient! Throughout history, there have been trials and tribulations noted. Yet teachers have continued to learn, grow, teach, and invest in the lives of students. We have the mindset that the best is yet to come, and we continuously strive toward that best! Without a doubt, this school year is going to be daunting and different, but I (Julie) also believe with certainty that teachers are going to make the best of whatever we are given, and we will succeed in teaching our students. It’s more than “I think I can, I think I can”...because I KNOW we can!

Open mind--It is important to reflect. Regie Routman says, “The most effective teachers I know are the ones who read about their profession, collaborate with their colleagues, carefully observe their students, and continually question and reflect on their practices” (2003, p. 216). As an educator, we receive time to plan for future occurings, but we rarely take time to reflect upon the past. Sometimes, and more often than expected, not everything goes as planned. We need to pause and think about what could have gone differently and what could be improved. We must face these times of reflection with an open mind willing to see our faults and shortcomings and work for improvement. We must be willing to try new things, engage in new technologies, and then reflect once more to see what is best for our students. During the school closure we were forced to face unknown territory with little to no plan time. Now that we are in a new school year, what can we reflect upon that occurred during the closure? What was something positive that occurred and how can this be fostered in the current academic year? Fresh mindset and perspective allow for continual growth. Throughout the closure, I (Rachel) was in contact with families at least once a week, of course to talk about learning, but also to simply connect. No longer was I calling about an academic or behavioral concern. Instead I was calling to check on wellbeing. I began to see true relationships form, ones that were stronger than ever before. If we have an open mind, we will be modeling what we expect from our students. Keeping an open mind will empower ourselves, our colleagues, and our students that we can achieve no matter what is thrown our way.