There was a rule in my house growing up–always bring a book. Mom said, “You never know when you will have to sit and wait. A book ensures you have a good way to spend the time.” It is a habit I still have to this day. Going to the mall, I bring a book. Going to the library, I bring a book. Going to the grocery store, I bring a book. Going to a baseball game, I bring a book. Today I was glad for this habit of always carrying a book (or two) around with me.
I am a literacy trainer that travels to various schools in my state multiple times during the year. Many of the districts I work with do not have a literacy coach. I become that for many of my teachers. Today I was scheduled to meet with various teachers during the morning for coaching. I went into the classroom of my first teacher, a first-year teacher. Eight o’clock am on Wacky Wednesday. I walk in with a smile. The students begin to alert the teacher of my arrival. “Ms. D., she’s here,” echoes across the room as the fourth graders call to their beloved teacher.
Ms. D. looks up from behind her desk where she is already at work with a student. Her eyes say what she is too polite to say with her words. “Oh no, she’s here. I forgot she was coming and I have nothing ready to show her. I am overwhelmed and I want her to leave me alone today and for this day to be over.”
I look around the room. I can see it is Wacky Wednesday and everything just seems a bit off today, not like the other days I have been here. It’s March. It’s early out. Tests are just around the corner. Tension is high. I pat the bag on my shoulder and remember the books I tossed in on the way out the door. I walk towards her desk and say, “Can I model for you today? Would that be alright? I am happy to watch you, but I would love to teach this morning if you are ok with that.”
Her shoulders drop and a genuine smile lights up her face. “Yes,” Ms. D replies. “Watching you would be great.” Tension and stress seem to melt away and the room takes on a new vibe. I grin at the kids, grab a book from my bag, and silently thank my mother for teaching me to always bring a book.