I was a seventh grader when I first read the book To Kill A Mockingbird. Those words. This writing, changed my life. I have read and re-read this book too many to count. It is a part of me, it is who I am, the words are etched in my soul and heart.
As I sat at my desk for a brief moment today, fighting back tears has I heard the news about the loss of the book’s author Harper Lee. Thousands upon thousands of lives she touched and I wonder if she ever realized that her book would reach so many.
This story, this lesson of love, friendship, tolerance, and justice still ring true today. I think that we as educators see these lessons play out every day. As I think about quotes from this amazing book: we need them, we need to live them out daily. Things are hard. We are living in times that are full intolerance and injustice, not much has changed since those words were penned by Ms. Lee all those years ago.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
I know that we as educators try to get our students to understand this idea...but do we really live it out? Do I put myself in my students place? My colleagues? My students’ parents? My legislature(ouch)? How do we understand people? How do we really get to know each other?
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know that you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
Courage. I teach middle school and conflict resolution for them often results in fighting and drama. I want my students to know that real courage is not using fighting words, physical violence, and going onto social media and bashing one another. Courage is when your back is against wall and you keep going. You keep fighting. You don’t stop. You see it through no matter what. Educators our backs are against wall. We are fighting uphill battles every single day, we keep going. We email and call those legislatures. We fight for schools in Oklahoma, we fight for our students, and we fight for each other. We see it through no matter what.
Things are never as bad as they seem.
This is the quote that I always have the hardest time with, sometimes things are hard and they are bad. But…...I get to teach kids how to sing. How to find beauty in the world. This is what I have wanted since I came from school on the first day of kindergarten and put my stuff animals on my bed and played teacher. When things just seem hopeless, when I feel beaten, defeated, undervalued, and unimportant...Things are never as bad as they seem. Oh teachers, things are never as bad as they seem. We are doing such good. Such important good.
Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's garden, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
I would be a bad music teacher if I didn't include this one. Music is beauty. Music is life.
Now...I’m going to go read To Kill A Mockingbird for the the millionth time. Thank you for making the world a better place Harper Lee.