I'm a "Late Blooming Mom" who put my own family first and am now transitioning to a full-time teaching career. In my life, I've taught fitness classes of all kinds, piano lessons to sweet kiddos, college health education courses and spent 20+ years supporting my husband in his Army career. At some point along the way, I realized I desired to begin the art of learning to be an excellent classroom teacher. I find myself back in college to obtain a second master's degree and as a member of a teaching residency cohort in an urban setting. I've closed my eyes to old ends and continue to believe the best is yet to come. It's no secret, though, that teachers pour a lot of themselves and their paycheck into building their supplies. As I start to build my library for next year, it's daunting to consider what I will spend for my classroom library: for me, the heart of my classroom and critical in my mission to help my students feel empowered to succeed.
Why middle schoolers? Why ELA?
I chose middle school English-Language Arts as my focus because I believe that if human beings can read, hard things become less hard. Completing job applications, filing income taxes, sharing one's thoughts and ideas with the world all become possible when we can read and write. I also reflect fondly on teachers who touched my life as a student. Many inspired me to read, to write, and to seek excellence. I hope to inspire others to do the same.
So why am I asking friends and strangers to help me stock my classroom library?
While I am privileged in many ways, quite honestly, I could use some help buying books for my future students. I dream of full shelves with books from all genres suitable for a multicultural classroom. I'd love to be able to purchase books with a range of 2nd through 10th grade, because those are honestly the reading levels that I will see in one grade level. I dream of a classroom library where every student can find a book that they can read with ease. I dream of books that reflect my students; covers with not just white kids, but black and brown kids and girls in hijabs. I dream of shelves with award winning literary fiction, informational texts, biographies of men, women and transgendered humans who inspire. You know, Caldecott Winners, books that teach REAL history, not the white-washed kind, and books that pique curiosity of all students. I want to have a shelf called "Recommendations from Former Students" and another that says, "Recommendations from Mrs. Bitner's Friends." I imagine a room with lamps, some carpet, a few cozy thrift store chairs. Comfy. Quiet. A place where kids feel safe and loved by their teacher. A space that empowers the voices of young people. Where heartbeats lessen, blood pressures drop, and deep breaths are commonplace. You know that feeling. Guard down, mind free of troubles and worries, lost in thoughts of our Thinking Voices as we read and comprehend and imagine. That place? It's a good place. To me, it's a place I want to my students to experience. With all that's going on in the world right now - a global pandemic spinning out of control, I keep reminding myself that beautiful things come from chaos. With so much divide separating people, I keep telling myself that we are Americans. We are a good people. With the reality of systemic racism creating havoc each and every day and so many being unwilling to see these realities, I remain hopeful that we can continue to take steps as a country to reunite. I want to believe there is good in everyone. I also believe that while not everyone feels called to spend their life teaching within the walls of a classroom, that Americans, in general are a very generous culture. And so, I simply decided to put myself and my story out there and just see what happens.
Should you be so inclined to agree with the above and decide to support my Building A Classroom Library endeavor. I can promise you that every single penny of my raised funds will be spent on books. Not lights, not a couch, not a comfy chair nor a cool little bookshelf. None of my favorite my oh, so expensive, Papermate Flair Medium point markers. NOPE. Every dime will support my little library. You'll never see the faces of my kids because I don't believe in that. I won't tell you where I teach or whom these kids are. That isn't the important part. Wherever my library lands, it will be well-used. As you may have noticed, I chose a rainbow colored heart for my image here. Because I believe love goes a long way to make the world a brighter place. What I WILL DO is send you a picture of the book you purchased for a child. And I'll save your name. And 5 years from now? I'll send you a list of the first name and last initial of every child who has read the book you so graciously donated.
- Beth Habermehl
- Mindy Zaruba
- Shelly Knudson
- Robyn Christopher
- Scott Loehring
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