Slice of Life Tuesday is enjoyed at Stacey and Ruth's Two Writing Teachers blog
One recent reading experience began my thinking again about my theory that writing is deepening my reading. I read Journey, by Patricia MacLachlan a while ago. I love her work, both in picture books and chapter books, and I am excited to see her speak in February when I attend the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association annual conference. In this book, a young child relies on much of his grandfather’s support, and the grandfather’s words are wise. At an earlier time, I might have read the scene below, enjoyed it, and moved on to another part of the book, but this time two things happened. First, I paid particular attention to the lesson, thinking about its application to teachers who work so hard to do their very best; and, second, I noticed that MacLachlan was very good at sneaking life lessons for the reader into her book, but doing it so subtly within dialogue that it seemed just another talk between grandparent and grandchild in order to move the plot along.
While speaking of the grandparent’s comment about a photograph, we first hear Journey, the main character.
“Well, I said, embarrassed and pleased. “Well, it’s not perfect.”
”Perfect!” Grandfather almost spit out the word. His face softened. “What is perfect? Journey, a thing doesn’t have to be perfect to be fine. That goes for a picture. That goes for life.” He paused. “Things can be good enough.”
And as I read this passage, it became a personal connection to the ways we teachers strive for perfection. We read professional books looking for new ideas to make the lessons better, stronger, even more motivating. We talk with our colleagues, we talk with our spouses, we wake up in the middle of the night worried about a particular student or lesson. We try harder! But when I thought about Grandfather’s words, I wondered if sometimes we should give ourselves permission to be good enough. If we stand back, and look at all the many things that happen with our students and in our classrooms, we can say often, “it’s good enough”. We can give ourselves permission to be not perfect, but to be good, good enough. Especially at this beginning of a new year, when we are all making resolutions to change this or that, to do this better, to learn how to do something, etc. perhaps we should consider and choose just a few, and that’s “good enough.”
As I explained earlier, I’m not sure I would have made these connections without having the experience of writing that I’ve had this year. It’s something for me to continue to wonder about, and to explain to the teachers with whom I work, to see if they can do a little research in their classrooms. Let me know if you have observations yourself about it.