The following is the opening letter from Shamari Reid’s forthcoming, Humans Who Teach, now available for preorder.
I am writing this from the comfort of my emerald green, rather worn-out loveseat in my hometown Oklahoma City, OK. The sun engulfs the “mini forest” neighboring my apartment and shines through 3 floor-to-ceiling windows as Mariah sings about loss in the background; the dishwasher rumbles and my phone buzzes, reminding me that in a world of over 7.8 billion humans I am not alone. I am a human who teaches.
I am a human with an obsession for chocolate chip cookies without walnuts. And without pecans or peanuts. Toni Morrison is my favorite author. Perhaps, she’s my favorite person. I’m Black. I enjoy cooking but I feel weird about cooking when I am requested or expected to do so. I grew up as the middle child and the only boy. I identify as cisgender and gay. I know a lot about Mariah Carey’s discography. Her album Butterfly is my favorite musical project. The first thing I ever wrote outside of school were the lyrics to Mariah Carey’s song “Petals.” The second non-school related thing I ever wrote was a short story about two siblings navigating life after losing their mother in a traumatic car accident. These days I find joy in playing video games online with my youngest nephew. I’ve been heartbroken twice. I like tv. I like movies. Have I mentioned that I love Toni Morrison?
In high school, I just knew I was going to be a cardiologist. After my first year studying cell and molecular biology in undergrad, I switched to public relations. And then to education. I love food, although I didn’t develop a liking for cornbread until after I turned 30. I’ve lived in a variety of states in the U.S.: Oklahoma, Florida, New York, Texas. I am grateful to have also lived outside the U.S in places like Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. I’m allergic to cats and grass apparently. I cry when I’m upset. I cry even more when I’m happy. I cry. My first job after finishing undergrad was as a high school Spanish teacher. I like stories. I’m human. I’m imperfect. And I deserve the most beautiful things life has to offer. I am a human who teaches.
This book is for us, humans who teach. Across this book’s pages, I explore my own complicated humanity and invite you to do the same. I wrote this book after realizing that too often teachers are dehumanized and not allowed the space to explore what it means to be a human who teaches, and humans who also deserve to lead lives full of peace, love, and joy. In this book, I rely on vulnerable storytelling to explore self-care, burn out, savior complexes, socialization, biases and beliefs, fears, and our human ability to love.
In addition, throughout the book I have intentionally included multiple invitations for you to add your own stories of your experience, ultimately constructing a more complete picture of what it means to be a human who teaches. It is my hope that this book brings us closer to the humanity of those of us who teach, and the humanity of the students we get to learn with and from. I believe that as humans who teach, we must engage with our own hearts and humanity, especially if our goal is to engage with the hearts and humanity of our students. We must start with us. You must start with yourself. I want you to take a moment right now to craft a personal snapshot as I have done above. Your personal snapshot will be for you: you are your audience. It is an opportunity for you to see yourself, your humanity, and get closer to understanding what you need to live a life full of peace, love, and joy. Yes, you can talk about your professional and educational experiences. However, I encourage you to share something more. I invite you to see yourself beyond only what you do professionally. Here are a few guiding questions: Who are you? What sentences, phrases, loose words, and stories would best illustrate your humanity?
In peace and love,
Humans Who Teach will be available on March 26, 2024.
Use Promo Code HUMANS20 at checkout to receive 20% off web price plus free ground shipping when you order before March 26, 2024.