For the last few years, Terry Fox Run has been the first school-wide fundraising event we organize at school every September. Last Friday, we had the assembly to launch the campaign. This week, I decided to read a book on Terry Fox to my students. For anyone out there who is not familiar with Terry Fox, Terry has been recognized by most Canadians as a national hero. Here is the link to the book I read, so you can have a brief idea about Terry Fox’s life story. (http://www.maxinetrottier.com/fox.html)
I always enjoy reading aloud to my students. Whenever I read to them, I model the reading with great passion. I dramatize a story, read with voice expressions, and sometimes add little sound effects to intensify the story. I love to see my students so intrigued when listening to a story because I myself was fascinated and intrigued by it. We don’t want children just to decode when they read. We want children to immerse themselves in reading with deeper understanding. So, once a while, I do have to clown myself to ensure that they have full comprehension of a text and are enthusiastic about reading. I want them to be so eager to grab the book off my hands and read. (That might be a bit stretched exaggeration.)
On Friday, when I was reading the Terry Fox biography to my students, I guess I immersed myself TOO MUCH into the book. They listened so attentively to my reading and we were so empathetic and touched by Terry’s life struggle, I started to sniffle and then wept in front of my students. I usually present myself as a tough one in front of all students at school; however, I am often moved by sad life stories including this one. My students suddenly became so quiet and, I guess, they just didn’t know how to react to their teacher’s bizarre behaviour. When I finally pulled myself together after getting a few pieces of tissue to blow my nose and wipe my tears. A few hands went up and this little voice came out of a little girl, “I bet Terry’s story reminded you of your dad who died of cancer.” My God, I had to turn back to grab a few more tissue after I heard that comment! Their teacher just shed her iron tears in front of them.
I have been trying to teach my students the importance of making connections when reading (Critical Literacy: focus on making analysis, inferences, and synthesis in reading comprehension). I told the little Grade Three students that we often connect a story we read to another story we had read before, to a personal experience we had encountered or an event that had happened in the world around us. Terry Fox died of cancer and my students also know that my father died of cancer. They immediately connected the two things together and applied their empathy to conclude that I must be crying because of my own connection to Terry’s tragic life.
It is the moment like this makes the whole teaching experience so rewarding! Sometimes, we teachers feel like we are constantly banging on the wall but nothing happens. Once a while, the students would say something like this and make you realize that every little thing you have said may have made an impact on your students. It is a humbling experience to remind myself that I have to teach them well so they will learn!