"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thinking about perspective with My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am Not)

How do you want others to see you?
To help frame this discussion, we read, My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am Not) by Peter Brown.
I really like this book. I am drawn to Peter Brown's storytelling and illustration style and this one does not disappoint. I wrote about the book here.

My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am not.) is a book that lends itself to many discussions. After reading it to 22 classrooms last week, I can tell you a few things:

1. This book appeals to students in grades 1-5.

2. The page where Ms. Kirby thanks Bobby for saving her hat received the same reaction  - laughter and chortles - demonstrating that the students understood that she had broken from her traditional response.

3. The "AHA!" moment never gets old, "Ms. Kirby has changed!

4. The students were eager to discuss and understand the transformation of Ms. Kirby. (The older students understood the perception aspect, but for some of the younger students, we worked our way around to perceptions. With the first graders, I heard creative thinking, such as: "I think she drank monster juice", "Maybe she turns into a monster when she gets mad", and "Maybe she's his mother." (hmmm...this last one got me thinking!)

5. Not all students understood that Bobby is short for Robert.

6. Those that knew that Bobby was short for Robert, completely understood the super subtle way that Peter Brown helped the reader see that Ms. Kirby's perception of Bobby had changed.

7. That final scene on the park bench when both Bobby and Ms. Kirby's perceptions have changed is a magical moment - they really see each other.

8. The fact that the shift in perspective for both Ms. Kirby and Peter takes place slowly (relatively) is an important message for students. Change takes time. Each year the students come together in a new grouping, we talked about how perceptions should shift and grow as they do).

8. The ending is another important message - no one is perfect, but if we allow our perceptions to change and grow, we can understand each other better.

It's is difficult to read, but we started the week with these words on the window: We want others to see us as...
After reading and discussing the book, I connected the story back to our original question, "How do you want others to see you?" I modeled the idea with a student and then encouraged all the students to think about how they would want a learning partner to perceive them and what they would want others who observed them working to see. The students contributed their ideas all week and I would add them each night. These are just a few of their words:

with their ideas and materials!

We all have strengths and challenges. 
There is room at our tables for all learners.

Here are some of the words I am writing out this evening: 
(drat, I left the other words at work and will add those tomorrow)

If I were to add a word, I would add: courageous. I hope that students will have the courage to share, try, and create.

These words will stay on the window reminding us to think about how we want others in our learning community to see us. No one can embody these traits all the time or every day, but being mindful of them will help keep our learning community one that is a safe for all learners and productive for all learners.

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