A bit of Jackson Brown's Great Pretender lives in me. I wake up some days a bit lost, but then I find my dreams in the smiling faces of those children and teachers I work with.. My fellow teachers and our CCSU Literacy Teachers are path finders.
When I was a young university student, Dr. Jerry Weiss asked us to consider stories from different points of view. He said what if you read To Kill a Mockingbird from the point of view of a Black Person, Hispanic Person, LGBT person, Immigrant, White person, a person of faith, and a person of no faith. What happened in that in class that day became one of my deepest most sincere learning experiences. Readers bring their life experiences to the text they read, and those experiences lead to multiple meanings. I would learn later on about Louise Rosenblatt's Reader Response Theory which took it to the next level.
Well, teaching that novels have different points of view leads right into Rudine Sims Bishop's Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors. Teachers have learning experiences that shape them; they are fed not by Common Core State Standards, but by theory. Research shapes us.
Our work is hard, and our nation's policymakers and legislators are working around the clock to make it harder. They don't care much for research; they prefer counting numbers. Professionally my view is a public school system that often tries to break teachers. It is around the concept of breaking teachers that I begin to feel lost, a great pretender. I then remember research guides me in the right direction, not test scores or policymakers. I remember teachers can make learning joyful. Then I put on my Mr. Icredible outfit, and say Does anyone feel like winning a gold medal today.
Then I remember these teachers and children needed me to rise above the noise. When I do that, I find my teaching soul. With teachers it is never about us; it is about those we teach.
For 40 years the ones I teach have always brought me back to my teaching dream. That dream that said I will be a teacher who makes a difference. Teaching is difficult, and the system appears to be making it harder, but those faces in front of me make it worth every day for 40 years.
I am the Great Pretender renewing my dream,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk it is Jackson Brown's The Great Pretender. > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xowaOsutxA4&ab_channel=MaliYojez <