It’s funny how inspiration sometimes hits us out of nowhere. When I want to sit down and write I make sure to create a playlist of inspiring music and try to make the magic happen. But then it doesn’t. I used to tell myself once I graduated from college that would be the time I would start writing again. However, when you are a first year teacher sometimes that just isn’t going to happen y’all.
But then one day you are walking around an old antique shop looking at old books and the inspiration finds you. Some people love that new book smell, but I prefer the older books because of the history that comes with them. I came across David Copperfield written by Charles Dickens, and inside the dedication a previous owner of the book had written their own. It read, “To my dearest friend, 1907.” One-hundred and ten years have passed since then, but those words remain the same. I wanted to know this person’s story, who their friend was, and why this book was important. I began to look through the other books and they were all engraved as well. At one point in these strangers lives they believed it was important to write inside of these books, which I believe tells a deeper story on its own. This experience led me to think about a few things that have been happening within my classroom.
I currently teach high school reading, and in my classroom we recently finished the book Night, by Elie Wiesel. If you aren’t familiar with this book it is written by a man who survived the Holocaust, and then had the bravery to write a book about his experiences. What is so important about this book is that we are able to learn from the author’s story. His story teaches us about racism, the pain he went through, and then how he used his painful experiences to help reach people. Elie Wiesel died last June at the age of 86, however, his story still goes on, specifically within the walls of many schools.
At the end of the novel, I wanted to leave my students with something that would challenge their thinking. I asked them to simply answer the question, “Do you believe taking time to understand other people’s stories is important?” Now, let me tell you if that have ever doubted that teenagers “just don’t get things” this is for you. One of my students said, “Of course it is, this is how we understand why people are the way that they are.” Another said, “Yes, because sometimes understanding someone else’s struggles can help you with your own.” So, let me just brag for a minute and tell you that my student’s are brilliant and they understand things I think some of us have been neglecting.
Why do we not take the time to stop for five seconds and try to understand one another? We spend so much time bickering about our differences instead of trying to learn from one another. Today I learned from a person who decided to write in a book one hundred and ten years ago, that I need to slow down and stop trying to rush the time by. I believe that we all have a story to tell and that we all have things that we can learn from each other.
Everyday my story is changing. I graduated from college in Decemeber, and now I am a teacher who gets to educate and hopefully inspire 86 young heroes. Some days I mess up, but everyday I am learning. So, whoever took time to read this, just know that I think you are valued and important. What’s your story?