I’m in the middle of a deep sleep, dreaming I’m riding horseback at sunset or sitting listening to David Gray sing Silver Lining when suddenly blasting sirens interrupt my peace forcing me to open my eyes. I reach through the darkness to stop the horrible honking and will myself awake. It’s 4:45 am. Time to get ready for school.
Before my feet touch the floor I’m thinking of things to be thankful for. This cuts off all thoughts of wanting to climb back under the covers. Coffee! At this moment I’m very thankful for coffee.
It’s been years since I’ve taught full-time. And years since I’ve had the freedom to teach my own lessons, given only the Standards and allowed to create from there. The joy that this brings me is incredible, surpassed only by the joy that I feel being around the students. They’re independent, curious, searching to understand themselves, leaving their elementary years behind and becoming young adults. Sixth graders can go from perfectly peaceful to screeching laughter in two seconds reminding me of my own days in sixth grade when my math teacher, Mr. Jones, would tease the quietest of kids (me) just to bring them out of their shell to have fun with everyone else.
I’ve only been in the classroom for three days. There are over one hundred names to learn and personalities to understand. I’ve been called Ms. R., Ms. Raisin, “What’s your name again?” and K.D. I’ve given eight author presentations and next week we will begin reading MYSTIC. We’ve discussed disability, what it means to be paralyzed, wheelchairs, racing wheelchairs, inner strength, and treating others as we wish to be treated. I’ve introduced my favorite books and encouraged them to learn about the authors who’ve written their favorite books. We’ve journaled and practiced vocabulary words on Quizlet. I’ve been handed four stories created by students to read over the weekend. Never before have my two worlds, teaching and writing, come together so perfectly.
I’m excited for this two-month journey in middle school. I hope I can teach the six graders as much as they’ll teach me.
Here are some more of my posts on teaching:Bad Teacher or Bad Parent Teaching Students About Disability
K.D. Rausin is a former teacher living in sunny Cape Coral, Florida. MYSTIC, her middle grade fantasy, and Elle & Buddy, her picture book, both feature strong female protagonists who use wheelchairs. Both books were inspired by her daughter, Arielle Rausin.
K.D. Rausin is a former teacher living in sunny Cape Coral, Florida. MYSTIC, her middle grade fantasy, and Elle & Buddy, her picture book, feature strong female protagonists who use wheelchairs. Both books were inspired by her daughter, Arielle Rausin.
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.