As most of the literacy world knows, Jacqueline Woodson just did what she always does, created a literary masterpiece for the ages. The Day You Begin helps its readers embrace the moments we feel an other. The moments we walk in a room or join a group, and find that despite the many gathered there we feel quite alone.
In those moments, we can let the crowd make us shrink and fall into silence, or we can immerse ourselves in it, raising our voices and ourselves to connect. We can begin.
What transpires in the pages in between is
This is book is such a powerful one at the start of a new school year, because what transpires in the pages in between are the stories of so many of our students, and through their telling children and adults alike learn, become aware, and move forward with a greater understanding of humanity.
This book has taken on its own meaning for myself as well. How will I begin in a new way this year? In a sense, I already have. This year I have had the great fortune of getting back into schools at the building level as a Title 1 Instructional Coach. Being right next door to teachers and students has given me an energy I didn’t realize I’d been missing so desperately for the past 6 years. The heartbeat of the school setting has pumped new and life-giving blood into my veins in a way that makes me feel I am starting my educational career anew. I am beginning. And it has been all the things Woodson told me it would be–exhilarating, terrifying, uncertain. Yet each day brings a new opportunity to share my story and truth with new people, and the connections are building far faster and deeper than I could have imagined. It is in these moments I know the universe has placed me exactly where I supposed to be.
It is in this belief that I go forward with Woodson’s words on my heart. The universe has its way of placing us where we can find purpose. Sitting in silence negates the profoundness we can create in our everyday lives, for ourselves and others. We need each other’s stories to begin.
As I take these words forward, I will consider each day where my opportunities exist to begin. To start a new, bolder, more knowledgeable and empathetic version of self. Our country needs it, our communities need it, our kids deserve it, and if we search deeply, our own hearts are thirsting for it.