The closing speaker at the Teachers College Reunion Day was Kylene Beers. Her message was loud and clear. She was celebrating the insight and dedication that teachers possess and the importance of putting the child at the center of learning, as she shared her beliefs with us.
She believes that literacy means power and privilege. This should be discussed with our students. Being a literate person in society gives you power. Power to have a voice that will influence change. Along with this power comes privilege because you are a valued person in society who is able to participate with open eyes and ears. Kylene believes that we as teachers are the source of this power as we teach children how to learn to read and write.
She believes in choice. When we are introducing books to children our purpose as a teacher is to help children join in a friendship with a book. A book that they want to read, can relate to and that will change their life forever. Choice is key to this friendship. If we are telling children what they have to read, it will be hard for them to form meaningful bonds with the text.
She believes that we as teachers should be looking at wantability not readablility when having students select books to read. If we look at what children want to read, this will foster a sense of self motivation and engagement. Children want to discuss books with others and this desire will help guide them into appropriate books and we should not worry.
She believes in teaching students to be active participants in our society not to pass a state exam. It is our job as teachers to guide our students into becoming citizens who can problem solve, collaborate and ask questions to find answers. There is nothing more important to our future as a society than this.
Kylene’s message was one that needed to be heard in a time when schools are using curriculum for the sole purpose of teaching to a test. It is our duty as teachers to do right by our students. To create a classroom environment that will provide choice, problem solving opportunities, time for collaboration, rich literature, and avenues for children to question the world around them and go in search of answers. This was the perfect message at the end of an amazing day!