professornana (professornana) wrote,

Antidotes and Anecdotes

The Scholastic Breakfast this morning featured 5 fabulous authors: Mark Teague, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Dan Santat, Pam Munoz Ryan, and Brian Selznick. What an incredible way to begin the morning. Something Jewell Parker Rhodes said struck me to the core: Teachers are the antidote for toxic childhoods. I tweeted that sentence, but it also burrowed into my brain and into my heart. I do think educators can be antidotes. I think books can be antidotes as well. A smile, a hug, so many things can be antidotes.

The thing is, we often do not know who needs an antidote or when they might need it. So we have to face each and every day prepared to be that antidote, prepared to reach out to someone who might just need us more right now. Sometimes this affective part of teaching gets lost in all the discussion of the cognitive needs of kids. We forget that we teach not content but people. Yes, I have content to convey, but I need to think first about the students and what they need from me, from school, from the assignment, etc.

And then I remember the kid I was, the kid for whom success in school really was an antidote for some of the toxicity of my childhood. Someone at school would praise me for something I did, and I redoubled my efforts. Someone saw me as smart, and I worked even harder to prove it. Teachers were antidotes for me. I hope I can repay all those teachers just a little bit for maybe being an antidote for someone else.

Thanks, Scholastic, and especially Jewell Parker Rhodes for the reminder about how a teacher can play such a pivotal role.
Tags: affective, cognitive, teaching
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