Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Inspiration

Inspiration can come in many forms. I'm inspired on a daily basis by my husband, parents, colleagues, students, and - importantly - my sons. 

Today I shared with my three classes of seventh graders one of my favorite picture books, Last Stop on Market Street. I love this world that Matt de la Peña lets us into. I love the illustrations Christian Robinson creates. We read it as part of our personal narrative unit. I want my students to see that stories are all around us. After each mentor text, we're doing a quick write. Kids can write about what the story was about, something it inspired, a poem they create after hearing it, anything. I put the timer on for three minutes and write with them, projecting my notebook under the document camera as my pen flies across the page. I never plan out what I'm going to write, and it's a different entry with each class, but it's always whatever is on my heart. 

After reading CJ and Nana's story today I was reminded of why I bought the book, what spoke to me about it. Beyond being just a beautiful book, I loved Nana. I loved that she looked for the good in everything. That she found beauty where others did not. This sentence especially spoke to me: 

He wondered how his nana always found beautiful where he never even thought to look.

After reading the book to the kids, we opened our notebooks to begin our quick writes. Here is mine from my first period today...

CJ's nana looks for the good in everything, and I admire that quality in others. One of the people I see this in, that I look up to myself, is my son, Liam.

Liam found out yesterday that he didn't make the basketball team he tried out for. He had worked hard after being cut last year, put in many hours, but it just didn't work out.

I admire Liam greatly for the simple fact that he continues to persevere. That he pushes himself to try again in the face of failure. That upon being told that he didn't make it he immediately asked if he could join the YMCA's team again and quickly said that he hoped his friends had made the team. 

On a daily basis, Liam looks for the positive in life, just like CJ's nana. He finds good in what could be seen as bad. Each and every day I try to just be a little more like him. 

My students were quiet when I shared my story, Liam's story. I asked them not to flood him with comments about how they wished he made the team, or that they were sorry he hadn't, because I knew he wouldn't want that. He had been sad last night, but he was over that today and wanted to move on. What I wanted was for them was to see how we can use books to connect, to teach us who we can become, to remind us of the good in others. My boys often inspire me, and I love to show that to my students. All too often kids think we don't notice them, but I see the good in others through their daily actions. I hope they can see that in me too.

Liam after school today, back at it.