Each autumn when I was a kid, I looked forward to the arrival of the Sears Wish Book. Within this catalog were the items I needed to ensure a perfect life. Barbie dolls I dreamt of, a dollhouse I coveted, and more. There were matching skirts and sweaters and perfectly appointed bedrooms. (I confess, though, the white French Provincial furniture never appealed to me.) I pored over the pages, carefully considering each item before adding it to my letter to Santa.
Of course the Sears Christmas catalog, and others like it, have gone the way of the dodo. But over the course of my teaching career, I’ve discovered two catalogs that fill me with as much excitement as the Wish Book did so many years ago. The Heinemann and Stenhouse spring catalogs arrived today, and I swear I did a little happy dance. Filled with professional books by educators I trust and admire, I now study the pages of these two catalogs with more intensity that I ever invested in the Sears catalog. Because, although I won’t ever have time to read all the smart, inspirational books offered by Heinemann and Stenhouse, I am certain that the three or four books that I do purchase will make me a better teacher. They won’t ensure a perfect life (I gave up that wild goose chase long ago), but they will provide me with ideas, tools, and strategies that I can use to do the best work I can for my students. And while that won’t give them a perfect life either, it will go a long way toward instilling in them the passions and skills they’ll need to create their own best possible life.
Thank you also to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Melanie, and Lanny for creating this community and providing this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.