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Stories that Fund Experience

Stories that Fund Experience

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Published by olsonjen

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Published by: olsonjen on Jun 23, 2009
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06/22/2009

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—Betty Hubbard—
UNIVERSITY TEACHER
 Betty has been teaching at the college level for four years.She has taught multiple courses on content area literacy toundergraduate students at the University of Georgia. Shealso has taught developmental reading at the college level.Initially, Betty enrolled in the Readers as Teachersand Teachers as Readers seminar because she was eager  to keep in touch with other teachers and was very curiousabout the course. Her favorite reading from the seminar was the article, “Pondering the ubiquity of reading:Whatcan we learn?” (2001), written by the leader of theseminar, Michelle Commeyras. Betty enjoyed this articlebecause she fully realized the role reading can play in theconstruction of self and how she might use thatinformation in her own classroom.
—Dawn Spruill—
 ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL
 Dawn began her career by working for six years inaccounting and banking. Before becoming a teacher, shespent a year as paraprofessional and two years as theattendance registrar in the Barrow County, Georgia,school system. Then, she began seven years as a classroom teacher in first, second, fourth, and fifth grades.She is now an assistant principal at Walker ParkElementary School in Monroe, Georgia. Taking the seminar allowed Dawn to rediscover her love of reading and made her realize that reading waswhat drew her to education in the first place. Dawn’s favorite readings from the Readers as Teachers and Teachers as Readers seminar were B
EFORE
OMEN 
H
 AD
INGS
by Connie May Fowler (1996) and E
LLEN 
OSTER 
by Kaye Gibbons (1987). She still has a long list of recommended reading from the seminar discussions.
 100
 
 101
CHAPTER 10
Stories That Fund Experience
Betty Hubbard and Dawn Spruill
e (Dawn and Betty H.) arrived at the same place at thesame time, exploring reading in our professional andpersonal lives and examining what it means to beteachers who identify themselves as readers and who teachreading. We found ourselves talking often about relationships inour lives, and we discovered reading was a central factor in many of our relationships. For us, reading is often the catalyst for union, thecement that unites and binds relationships. There are no rules forthe formation of these relationships; they simply emerge fromsharing stories.Stories enrapture us, propel us forward, lead us to seek morein a quest to satiate the unquenchable. We are compelled to buildthis reverence for stories in students. Is this informed passion orrandom lunacy? This is not something we had thought aboutbefore in the company of professional others. We knew fromexperience that reading is a necessary component for academicsuccess, but this shared impetus comes from the depths; it isurgent, essential, and basic.We believe that sharing stories opens us to change, meldingthe disparity of culture and preference. The written word bearstransformative power forceful enough to ground visions of socialchange, yet gentle enough to plant the seeds of understanding.Stories position us in time, space, gender, race, ideology, andpedagogy. We have laughed, cried, and befriended characters andauthors we will never meet. Still, we reserve a place for them at ourconversation tables. Carrying their wisdom with us, we whittle awayat the splintered edges of our person, reshaping our subjectivitiesand smoothing our rough ideas into newly fashioned, moreinformed dispositions. Our readings challenge us to question the
 
origins of our ideas and interrogate ourassumptions. This is our quest. We share ourexplorations here.Contemplating beginnings, Dawn wrote thefollowing narrative to share with Betty H. afterattending a class at Metro Regional EducationalService Agency in northwest Atlanta, housedin a former school that bears a strikingresemblance to her first elementary school:
I was filled with a sense of nostalgia and déjà vu.Classrooms in these buildings have high ceilings, transoms tothe hallway, several large chalkboards with narrowcorkboards on top, and two or three shallow closets along onewall. These closets held supplies, books, and the glue we allloved to eat in primary school. The windows to the outside aretall and still hold attachments for the canvas blinds that raiseand lower from the center point of the window. The little girlthat I was whispers in my ear as we share our memories of those days. In the transom, I see my best friend’s dusty,yellow flip-flop sandal, thrown there by the boy who loved totease. I remember my anger with that boy and the teacherbecause they didn’t seem to care that my friend was crying.I recall the clicking, ticking radiators; the creaking of thewooden floors; the smell of chalk dust and mold; and thebathrooms with the plywood stalls and short sinks. The tall,low-to-the-ground windows remind me of being the classroomfire marshal. My job was to check the hallway door with myhand. If it was hot, we had to climb out the windows to safetyduring a fire drill. My little friend and I giggled about how ourteacher must have hated the month when it was my turn asclass fire marshal!I remember recess under the tall oaks, enjoying tea withacorns and leaves for our china. Our school had a treasuretrove of books in the library, but no librarian. When wefinished our work early, we were able to explore the prairiewith Laura Ingalls Wilder or blaze a new trail with DanielBoone.Now, dimmed by my administrative responsibilities as anassistant principal, I realize what is not remembered. I cannotremember details of day-to-day classroom instructions. Howdid I learn about letters and the magical way they come
 102
Hubbard & Spruill
 The written wordbears transformative power forceful enough to ground visions of social change, yet gentle enough to plant the seeds of understanding.

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