Trevor has been to the library the past two days during independent reading time. He approaches me, book in hand, and says, "I don't like this one. It's too ________." Trevor is a kid who loves a book once he gets into it. He's waiting for the third book of his trilogy to come in.
I'm a little irritated when he walks toward me with his planner to leave for the library for the third day in a row. But I try to see him as a kid who's struggling to choose a book rather than a kid who wants to beat the system and leave class. I say, "Would you like a book recommendation from the classroom library instead?"
He nods. I hand him Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which everyone, young and old, should read) and he trots back to his seat.
Today I circulate to check pages, trying to figure out who read last night and who didn't, and I peek over his shoulder. Page 34. "Do you like it?" I whisper.
"Yeah," he says, and he's a kid with the most sincere voice, "Thanks so much for helping me find it."
I'm not proud to note that I teared up when he thanked me. I was in awe of my students all day long, so I was sort of on cloud nine, but his sincere gratitude just put me over the top. I walked away to check the next kid's page, looking up at the fluorescent lights to make sure the tear didn't escape.
It just reminds me that our job is to help kids open doors. To educate. I know that sounds ridiculously simple. But it's easy to forget in the daily busyness. If a kid can't find a book, don't get angry. Help him find a book. If a kid doesn't realize that their word choice is disrespectful, talk her through it and help her understand why, instead of saying "That's inappropriate," and sending her to the office. It gets a lot easier to point out what kids are doing wrong than it does to try and understand where the disconnect is happening.
His "thank you" today is another reminder that the little things--and the ways we handle them--matter.