I debated whether I should include this or not, as it’s something of a cheat. I am friends with the writer of this letter — we’ll call her Nell, as that’s her name — so she’s biased in my favor. Even so, Nell is a dedicated teacher and this note says all the things I hoped to hear. I can’t help but share it.
This is my first time checking out your blog. Lots of great stuff! I am enjoying the extra time afforded by a Columbus Day (I know many parents, like you, cringe at a day off of school already, but we teachers love it), to slow down from the hectic back-to-school pace and do some of the reading and things I want to do, not have to do. Apple picking with the kids is next on the list.
After reading Lestor Betor’s email to you, I thought I would share with you my class’s reaction to Along Came Spider.
I decided to begin the school year with Along Came Spider as our class read aloud. I thought it would be a good way to engage in conversations about how we want our fifth grade classroom to be. Just last week we read the part where Spider asks Trey to give him some space at school and maybe they could just be friends at home and our read aloud discussion erupted. The kids who were sitting back glassy eyed, who I didn’t think were really listening, but dreaming more about what they would do when the dismissal bell rang in 15 minutes, were leaning forward hands waving wanting to share their thoughts about Spider, Trey and Ryan’s actions and reactions. They were so eager to share their stories of how it feels to be left out, made fun of and ignored, and it has been a great springboard for conversations on bullying, respect and doing the right thing. They can’t wait to find out what Spider is going to do.
I am looking forward to reading Bystander, and I am sure many of my students will go to it after finishing Along Came Spider.
Instead of replying to Nell’s email, I think I’ll just drive over to her house to give her a hug. Or maybe, if her husband, Matt, is home, just offer Nell a couple of books for the classroom instead. We’re trying to keep the hugging thing on the down-low.