It's March and we started our annual March is Reading Month activities yesterday. I personally love many of the extras we do during the month of March. I feel like it gives us all (our students and ourselves) a burst at the end of a dull period. Sometimes the extras feel stressful but then I remind myself that deviations are good and sometimes taking yourself out of focus helps you re-focus with more clarity.
One of the activities we typically do as a staff is decorate our door. We might choose a favorite book or some kind of reading-related topic and go crazy with crafts for an afternoon. Door decorating was taken off the menu of "extras" this year but some teachers in our building are continuing the tradition. A first-grade classroom down the hall from me is all decked out in orange, puffy trees, and Lorax like characteristics--a popular Dr. Seuss story.
When my kids were young, I didn't read a lot of Dr. Seuss books. They are classic but they were not my favorite picture books to read. When my son, now a seventh grader, was in first grade, his teacher was a Dr. Seuss fanatic. Her entire classroom was steeped in Dr. Seuss colors, characters, and themes from familiar stories. It was the year he was in first grade that the movie The Lorax first hit theatres and I remember him being excited. I remember going with him and feeling a sense of hope at the end of the film.
Last night I went to a movie screening put on by local organizations working to inform the community through education and support for teachers where I live. The movie Resilience, a documentary about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was available for educators and I decided to go watch as a mom and a teacher. It was one of those movies that hits you with science and hard to ignore cold facts that we would tend to repress and pretend don't exist. I knew this going in but I couldn't help feeling like my school community would butt the facts and respond with "what can we do?"
After the movie, the nearly packed theatre of teachers, community members, and those in healthcare had an open discussion about the film. There were bits of defeatest tone but for the most part many wanted to do something, they want to take what they know and somehow create actionary steps that help the children and their families who are suffering. One teacher stood up and said in so many words, "I won't be a worse teacher for having seen this. I might not know what I can do tomorrow, but maybe I can just be more effective for knowing." It gave me some hope. It reminded me of sitting in the theatre many years ago watching The Lorax with my wide-eyed six-year-old son as I watched and thought about the message of caring and doing.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. ~Dr Seuss, The Lorax