Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Teacher Appreciation, A Gift of Love: The Children Are Watching

Let a teacher know how grateful you are for the many ways she cares for your child, stays up late and works weekends to create lessons that will engage your child's curiosity, expand his mind, stimulate her drive for learning. Let your child's teacher know how much you appreciate all the ways he helps the children make friends, discern the effects of their actions on others, master complicated ideas that transform them into bold know-it-alls, eager to tackle the next tough assignment. (Sometimes that
assignment comes from the tough questions the kids ask, like how colors got their names or why it's ok for countries to make war when kids are told not to bully )

It's time to give that teacher some love! Specifically, I Am Loved, the incomparably beautiful new book of poems by Nikki Giovanni! Ashley Bryan's luminous illustrations add both force and tenderness to these poems of love - love for a child, love for "our dance beneath the sun," love for elders who have passed, whom we sing as a

sad blue song ....
a Song of Blackbird
To Say
You will be missed.

The theme of this collection of poems is clear, the message strong:

I reflect the strengths
Of my people
And for that alone
I am loved

Nikki Giovanni is connected to my life as a teacher: she was a young poet when I was a young high school English teacher in Nashville, my first time in the South. As my colleagues and I sought out Black authors to add to what counted as "American" literature in the curriculum, I discovered Nikki Giovanni. We couldn't have imagined teaching poetry without her.

Give I Am Loved to a teacher. Donate it to your school library. Send a copy to your school board - why not? Remind them what our schools are for: the kids, the teachers who inspire them, and the dreams we have for the kinds of caring people we want them to become. After all, the children are watching.

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