This morning there was a story on Marketplace called “Pro Tool.” Host David Brancaccio caught my attention when he referred to a pair of scissors as “dear.” This usage of the word, meaning “high or exorbitant in price” is uncommon these days. As I continued to listen, though, Brancaccio’s use of the word made perfect sense. Hairdresser Lauren Popper was clear that these shears, as calls them, were indeed “highly valued, precious” to her. After all, without the right tools, this hairdresser wouldn’t be able to do her job effectively. My husband, a toolmaker, and my son, a cabinetmaker, both have favorite tools that they would feel lost without. And I have my favorite bowl, knife, etc. in the kitchen. But what about my job? Do I have a tool without which I couldn’t teach?
In fact, I do. I can’t imagine teaching without books. The books I read as a kid instilled a sense of curiosity in me and made me want to learn more. Books have pushed me to be a more compassionate and empathetic person. Then there are books I have depended on to learn this craft of teaching.
Books have helped me be an effective teacher in another way. They’ve helped me build relationships with students and colleagues. Reading a book with a group of students is one of the best ways I know to build a community. Sharing the experiences of characters we come to love brings us together. After crying together when Charlotte dies, or cheering for Auggie during his standing ovation, we are a team. Without the healthy, trusting relationships that books help us forge with our students, we wouldn’t accomplish much.
Some may argue that computers are indispensable to teaching. They do make life much easier (most of the time), and I love how technology has broadened my horizons. But I love the people next to me everyday more. I love that my first grade students are taking off as readers and that the seventh grade writers met their writing goals. I love that when children see me in the hallway, they tell me what book they’re reading. These people and moments are all precious to me. They, and the books we share, are dear.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.