Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why?: The Story of WHY The Gift From Mary Virginia Mattered So Much

I know it's the beginning of wonderful new school years all across the country, and as I sit here at my computer thinking about it, I can feel the excitement and promise a new class of students and a new school year brings.
I also know that if you're a teacher like me, you know about those "long after Christmas is over and long before Spring Break is in sight school days." The days that can sometimes seem endlessly long and mundane. The days when we wonder if what we're doing is really making a difference with the kids in your classroom. The days when we might seriously ask ourselves, "WHY did I go into this profession?"
It was a day like this that I got a gift one day from Mary Virginia, a very special first grader. She bounded into our first grade classroom one morning with the book, Why? by Lila Prap. If you don't know the book it's one filled with the answers to "why" about all kinds of "Why do zebras have strips?" or "Why do kangaroos have pouches?" It's a book that begs to be read and studied by the eager and inquisitive kids that fill our primary classrooms.

It's also a book that made me think about the importance of asking and answering articulately the whys in our profession..... and question my own professional "why"?
Why am I a teacher and why do I do the things I do each day in my classroom?

And as you all know, one good book and one big question leads to other great books and other big questions, and my "why" question led me to this book:

I'm only on chapter 4, but I'm finding (and agreeing) that there is compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we start everything we do by first asking why.

So, thanks to Mary Virginia (and her wonderful avidly reading parents, Cameron and Jay),
below dancing at my wedding this summer!

Below are my reasons why your gift that day meant so much.

Also cheers to books that lead to new thinking and understanding (thanks Lila Prap and Simon Sinek),
here are my big professional "whys".

WHY do I teach?
....because I believe in both hesitant and eager learners (young and old)
....because I believe in standing up for what is right for children and for our profession
....because I believe in celebrating the differences in each child that enters my classroom
....because I believe in taking children where they are and moving them forward as learners and as people
....because I believe in slowly growing and not racing to the top
....because I believe in giving children the time they need to grow, learn, explore their passions, find their strengths, learn from and conquer their struggles.
....because I believe that one size doesn't fit all and all sizes matter.
....because I believe that children matter more than test scores.
....because I believe in always having an answer about my teaching when asked the question "Why?"


  1. Asking why seems to be pretty important up in our neck of the woods also. I love the idea of figuring out the "why" and then proceeding from there with the what and the how.

    thanks for sharing such great beliefs in answer to your "why" question!!

  2. Ann Marie, I love this book. I also love the way you managed to weave it into a life story once again. Sometimes it is good to sit back and reflect on the real reasons we do what we do. It's easy to get caught up in the politics, to get stressed by the added pressures placed on young students, and to forget the real reasons we came to our profession in the first place: CHILDREN!!

  3. Loved this post. Thanks. I especially like "I believe in slow growing and not racing to the top."