School is nearing an end and summer is around the bend. So I decided to take a stroll down memory lane to highlight my first year of teaching when long hair and mini-skirts were in vogue. My first experience started in Albany at the Albany High School Annex with senior high, disenfranchised readers. The work was challenging but so rewarding. I started immediately after my Master's Degree was completed and that meant I only had six months to engage students whose lives were filled with social, emotional, and academic difficulties in the art of reading. I hope that this poem helps you reflect upon your early days of teaching and how you have grown as a learner and practitioner.
Readers Take Flight
Faces of youth,
"Kotter-like" students beyond their years,
Move through the hallways of my mind.
I number each of them in my etch book of time
As I recall first words,
Backstories of solitary lives
Without maps to guide their journeys,
Tribulations, and small triumphs.
In the corners of yesterday, I see their faces
Peering behind books. I savor the memories-
Makeshift first classroom,
Third floor annex-adjacent to cafeteria,
Sweaty smells, crowded seating,
Children in adolescent frames,
Disheveled, tuned out.
Sitting before me, waiting for guidance.
Traveling together on a rocky but steady path
We grew a learner’s haven.
As trust evolved,
Their minds expanded,
Swaddled in words from books
That lined the walls
And cradled the learning.
Then, as quickly as I came into their lives,
I left. June brought the year to an end.
The string that bound our learning lives unraveled.
I watched each of them take flight.
Into the summer winds, they soared
As floating balloons dancing in the sky.
I sighed, hoping that one day they would become
The readers I groomed them to be.
This poem has been submitted to the Poetry Friday Round-up found at Carols' Corner this week. In the comment section, there will be messages from a variety of writers linking you to their poems. At the top of the blog page, is a quote by Kate DiCamillo that speaks to the issue of reading as a gift.
"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift."
May your Friday be filled with the pleasure of reading.