The last few weeks, I've had the best time reading to my children, Alex and Megan. I started reading Peter Brown's The Wild Robot to Alex but Megan quickly wanted to be part of the experience as she heard us talking about the characters. Roz, Brightbill, Chit Chat and the other characters became part of our every day conversation. We loved Roz and we loved Brightbill and we really loved their mother-son relationship. When the first book ended with Roz leaving the island, my son insisted we order the sequel that very night. (He is not a kid who loves to read on his own so the fact that he was so deeply committed to these characters and emotionally invested did not go unnoticed by me.)
I had already read The Wild Robot before reading it to them, but The Wild Robot Escapes was new to all of us. I really didn't know how it would end, but in my heart I knew Roz and Brightbill had to be together.
It was SOOO. GOOD!
We were so sad when the book ended, although I was delighted with the way it ended.
It is amazing how a really good story can capture your mind and your heart and when you read it together, it becomes a part of your collective story. This is probably why read aloud is my favorite thing to do as a teacher and why I never compromise on reading to students every day. It's why I refuse to let reading be reduced to a level or a text complexity or a state test. Yes, these things are part of our reality as teachers, but always, always, always we must keep in mind that reading has the ability to transform how you think and feel. It can connect us.
Megan and Alex and I will always carry Roz and Brightbill's adventures in our hearts. They are part of our story now.
All around me, Daisies were happily hammering their woodworking project with a parent sitting next to them, guiding them. My Daisy, Megan, and my son, Alex, who has to come along for our Daisy meetings, sat with their materials in front of them, waiting for me to take charge and tell them how we get started. We were at our bi-monthly Daisy meeting and our troop was fully embracing this building activity. As a co-leader, I was not having a good night. I forgot we were supposed to bring a hammer. Or maybe I shoved it back into my subconscious, dreading this moment.
I have poor spatial skills. I have no experience with hammering and building. I HATE projects like this. I felt paralyzed. I didn't know how to even begin, so I didn't. I moved a few things around the table, but that was just to look busy. If I could have left for the bathroom, or a drink of water, or a trip to the nurse, I would have GLADLY.
Suddenly I see. I see how it just sucks to sit somewhere and be expected to do something you have no clue how to do, don't really want to do, are sure you are incapable of doing. I see how some of my students must feel at school each day, when reading and writing tasks feel to them like woodworking felt to me. Which is to say DREADFUL.
At Daisies tonight, a caring dad saved the day. He had already helped his daughter, and he must have seen us sitting there, doing nothing. My children wanted to make this project and so he came in and kindly helped them to do the hammering and assembling.
Sometimes, we all need a little help. Sometimes we need a lot. Tonight was a good reminder of how awful it is to feel like you are incapable of doing something that everyone else seems to know how to do. How a helpful person can make the difference. Why escape and avoidance are such sensible ways for students to deal with the pain and anxiety of feeling lost in the classroom. How a teacher can recognize when students are avoiding and escaping and find ways to make learning endeavors less stressful.
While it felt really awful to feel so inadequate and clueless, it did provide this insight so I hope some good can come from me being so terrible at my Daisy meeting.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski