Book Review – A Letter to My Teacher

At the Feaster Book Fair, I picked up an adorable book that helped me keep perspective on a tough day and  helped me remember to be empathetic even when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed. The book, A Letter to My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson, is a great reminder about why we have patience and positivity even when we are exhausted. Throughout the book, an active and curious student seems to test her teacher’s patience with every chance she gets. With the best of intentions, this young learner causes what could be chaos, except the teacher uses such positivity and care every time that she responds to the misbehaviors of this young learner.

Building Relationships

“When I slipped away to look for hidden treasure in the root cellar, you and the whole class had to trudge down the old stone steps to find me. I think even you lost your patience that time.  ‘Exasperating’ was the word you used. I remember because that night my mom helped me look it up in the dictionary.’

Deborah Hopkinson

I feel like every teacher who dreads a field trip can relate to this quote! However, from this page, it is clear that the teacher has made a positive impact on this child. Even though they clearly had a conversation about a tough moment, it is evident from the way the student went home and looked up the word that there is a strong relationship. I was left predicting how this positive relationship was built…here are my best predictions:

  • Teacher assumes positive intent when the student is “acting out”
  • Strengths are recognized and applied to learning experiences
  • Student’s interests are understood and connected to learning
  • Patience is used and explanations about expectations are clear
  • The teacher uses creative responses when discussing inappropriate or dangerous  behavior

I see these events happening all the time on our campus – where teachers are focused on making learning applicable to each individual student! Just this past Friday, I was hearing a story about how a teacher makes her kindergarten students so intrigued in everything by sharing exciting stories about the most random things; for example, by telling the students how special the assignment they are working on is because it is their chance to show how their brains are growing. Every teacher has these moments when they know they have made a connection and tapped into the individual child. I encourage you to take the time to reflect on those!

 

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Recognizing and Applying Strengths

“Thanks to the math games we played, measuring our garden boxes was easy.”

Deborah Hopkinson

One of the things that we focus on at Feaster is being able to recognize and apply the strengths of each of our learners. We do this through applying RIASEC, having conversations with our students about what they enjoy, listening to what they share, making connections to their interests in academic ways and just by being available for them when we know they need us. We prepare our students for those moments when we know that they will have to rely on their academic intelligence to apply their learning from years ago. We support them and help them grow to experience every positive opportunity possible. This is what we do when we bring all of the programs to Feaster (ie Mindlabs, VAPA, STEM, STEAM, Feaster Farm with the chicken coop, hydroponic greenhouse and the tilapia pond, our after school clubs, our athletics programs, our band, our dance performances, our engineering lab, our science lab, our technology on site…) because we are focused on the learners and making sure that they grow academically, socially and emotionally.

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I would highly recommend this book to any teacher who wants to read a sweet story that will remind you why you have so much patience. This book is perfect for those days when you are exhausted yet you know that you have done great work and that it will show through in your learners and the community you have built. This is a reminder that when we build relationships with our kids, we are doing more than just getting to know them, we are helping them have a more effective learning experience and we are influencing their view of education and learning in general. I am proud of our Feaster staff for being like the teacher in this book – patient, caring, creative, full of positive intent and focused on what is important. Thank you, Feaster teachers!

 

Side note – if you are interested in reading this book, come see me in room 903! 🙂

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