Just make a mark and see where it takes you.
— Vashti’s teacher, The Dot by Peter Reynolds
This line bounced out of the first day of school’s read aloud. It hit me not just for what it might mean for my students as they crack open that brand new writer’s notebook, but what it means for me as I open to the first page of this year’s teaching journey.
That nervous, excited feeling of the first day of school is a part of every year. But this day, this year, everything is new in every way. I enter the classroom with the same feeling my students have. Brand new to the room and the grade level. We will sit together on a brand new carpet, and we will christen it with picture books read alouds.
If we try hard enough, we will fail like Rosie Revere and the little girl in the Most Magnificient Thing. We’ll fly, right before we crash. And if we don’t give up, if we persist, the memory of flight will push us onward.
Easy, it’s not. We’ll stumble and have set backs and want to give up.
We might pull the flowers and not the weeds like Francisco in A Day’s Work. Painful as it may be, we’ll have to face up to our mistakes. Otherwise, how will we learn to tend our garden?
We may doubt our abilities. It might be easier to make excuses. But, like Farah in One Green Apple, Chibi in Crow Boy, and Emmanuel in Emmanuel’s Dream, we will keep on through difficulties. We have hope even when things seem impossible and uncomfortable.
Characters like Beekle will light our way. We may be different or think differently. But like Maya in Going Places and Donna Jo Napoli’s Albert, we will find our way. To that person, that place. That fits us. And in doing so, we’ll soar above the rest.
My students and I are sure to have moments that resemble the darker side of Vashti in The Dot. The side that says, I can’t. That turns away.
But, if we just make that mark, take that step, our journey will continue. We’ll reach out with our pens and our hearts and discover the world and ourselves.
Here’s starting the year with picture books. Here’s to a year of discovery.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday. Read more slices here.