In this Q&A, Scholastic authors and education specialists respond to a series of questions about inspirational messages they’d like to share with fellow educators for the new year, and the biggest learnings they are taking with them into 2022. Read their responses below.
What is one message that you’d like to share with all educators heading into 2022?
“As we head into the new year, remember to rest and continue to move forth with grace, empathy and joy.” – Gholdy Muhammad, author of Cultivating Genius
“As educators, we are the keepers of the stories for the next generation. The stories that we tell, as well as the stories that we don't tell, reflect our values as a society. Are we committed to an inclusive and multicultural America? If so, our books and stories must reflect this.” – Don Vu, author of Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness
“My hope for 2022 is that teachers start from a perspective of strength with all students and base their teaching on the resources, those apparent and those untapped, which every student brings to school. In doing so, I hope that classrooms are filled with possibilities, creativity, and the excitement that comes from the joy of being truly acknowledged and valued.” – Laura Ascenzi-Moreno, co-author, Rooted in Strength
“May all children have opportunities to read books and other texts that interest them and that affirm their lived experiences. May all bilingual and multilingual children live the question, “what it means to be a reader?” in ways that normalize their bi-multilingualism.” – Cecilia M. Espinosa, co-author of Rooted in Strength
“Our students are brilliant, brave, and strong, each in their own way. Let's lead with their strengths, inspired by the stories they carry of their families, elders, languages, resilience journeys, their hopes and dreams. May the new year be a story of the transformational power of teaching and learning, from strength to strength, yours and theirs together.” – Pam Allyn & Ernest Morrell, authors of Every Child a Super Reader, and Every Child a Super Reader: 2nd Edition, slated for release February 2022
“It is all about relationships and taking time to nurture those relationships—with friends, family, the children in our classrooms, and their families. Making those connections with others through the stories and books that you share creates an impact that can span generations.” – Julia López-Robertson, author of Celebrating Our Cuentos
“No one ever said teaching would be without challenges. Yet, since March of 2020 it seems we have been faced with unforeseen and unpredictable obstacles. Consider that some of our youngest learners, and our colleagues new to our beloved profession, have yet to experience a “normal” school year. As we walk into 2022, I invite educators, collectively, to reflect on the joyful moments that emphasize why we became educators in the first place. In and among the difficulties, there have been authentic moments of relationship building and bright innovation. We have given more than just lip service to the phrase, “meet learners where they are” in both a cognitive and social-emotional context. While we aren’t certain of what 2022 has in store for us, I believe that affects such as persistence, willingness, collaboration, grace and patience, when intentional, will always matter most no matter the hurdles we face.” – Valerie King, author of Make It Relevant!, slated for release Februrary 2022
“Engagement has become a buzzword, and for good reason. Teachers should make it a priority to connect with students, one by one by one.” – Ralph Fletcher, author of The Writing Teacher’s Companion
“One thing I would like to share with my educational community is that we have to keep a Why Not mindset. After being socially distant, isolated and separated, we must focus on building community, instilling hope and staying connected. We are not only educators, we are bridge-builders, change makers, resilient supporters, and positive influencers. We have the ability to empower those whom we serve. Let us never forget the power we have to make an impact.” – Dr. Jacqueline Sanderlin, author of The “Why Not?” Challenge
“Our hope for 2022. Let’s create joyful and engaging reading opportunities for our students, every day, which helps them build their reading foundation and promotes their sense of wellbeing. Let’s turn our classrooms (in-person or virtual) into reading playgrounds—a learning space where teachers and students can sing, dance, and celebrate dynamic words and texts together. Let’s make joyful reading the central and unifying goal of our classrooms and schools!” – New York Times bestselling original author of the Pete the Cat series Eric Litwin & Dr. Gina Pepin, co-authors of The Power of Joyful Reading
“We have certainly been thrown some curve balls over the last few years, and every time we think it is the bottom of the ninth and we are winning, the game changes. But we are educators, so we do what we have always done—adapt and make decisions in the best interest of the children we serve. I wish for all of us and our students a joyful, peaceful, and learning filled 2022. Hang in there. The kids will always be worth the effort.” – Maryann McBride, co-author of The Next Step Forward in Running Records
“My husband is a retired military chaplain. He told me recently that the word “benediction,” which is often confused with a closing prayer, comes from two Latin words: bene, which means to bless, and diction, which means to speak. With that in mind, I want to “speak a blessing” on all my fellow educators: May you overflow daily with wisdom and joy, and may your students always remember you as the one who helped them become successful readers who just can't wait to read another book!” – Jan Richardson, co-author of The Next Step Forward in Running Records
"In the midst of challenge, which 2021 has certainly presented, it can be difficult to remember the importance of reflection. When we revisit our practices, we have the opportunity to refine our instruction. Engaging in ongoing professional learning further shapes our reflection and allows us to link new educational understandings and insights to student learning. Recommitting every year to these important aspects keeps our teaching grounded and supports students’ accelerated progress.”– C.C. Bates, co-author of The Next Step Forward in Running Records
“Always remember that, as a teacher, you are an artist as well as a scientist. Always keep in mind that artistic teaching is authentic (reflects real life), aesthetic (touches the heart as well as educates the mind) and creative (joyful and engaging).”– Tim Rasinski, co-author of Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills, slated for release February 2022
“I believe the pandemic has brought all who care for and work with children closer. We feel our kinship more keenly and are more willing to find ways to work together that bring everyone’s strengths to the resulting combination of talents. I believe this stronger bond will be one of the best changes that will outlast the disruptions caused by Covid-19.” – David Harrison, co-author of Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills, slated for release February 2022
What is your biggest learning from this year that you’ll be taking with you into 2022?
“In March 2020, we could have never anticipated that nearly two years later, our worlds would be so changed with continued uncertainty. What I have learned for 2022 is the power of community to not only meet the pandemic challenges, but to find creative, often better ways of helping our children that we will carry forward. We’ve learned so much, rediscovered how much relationships matter to all of us and how much we need to stay in touch. We’ve learned that by staying together, we can transform our losses into steps forward even in the face of uncertainty.” – Dr. Linda C. Mayes, author of The Educator’s Guide to Understanding Child Development
“The back and forth, sometimes hybrid, sometimes virtual, sometimes in-person nature of life in schools this past year made it all too clear that what kids really want (and need) is to feel seen. It became apparent that curriculum, while important, should take a back seat to the individual identities of the children in front of us. This means putting aside teacher driven agendas, listening to what kids have to say, and having our instruction grow out of student's unique ideas and noticing.” – Dan Feigelson, author of Radical Listening, slated for release January 15, 2022
“Never let go of the fact that virtually or in person, you make the difference in children's lives. You never know how far reaching your influence is and will remain throughout their lives. Celebrate your intentional gifts!” – Mary Jo Fresch, co-author of Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills, slated for release February 2022