This morning I was catching up on some reading of my often neglected feed of blog posts and came across two separate, yet very connected, blog posts. One was from George Couros, called Engaging Parents in the Learning Process. The other was over at Nerdy Book Club, called The Great (inbe) Tween by Lindsey Leavitt. George writes, “Being able to engage in the process with your child, like reading, will help improve their learning. That type of engagement brings learning to a different level in the home.” As a mom to four elementary-aged children, I often consider my own kids and how their interests and experiences apply to my work with kids at school. Likewise, as decisions are made at my school, I think about how I might feel in that parent role. This perspective often gives me common ground with our parents to acknowledge what we truly want for our kids.
This takes me back to a couple of weeks ago when my son, a huge fan or Star Wars, came home from school talking about Tom Angleberger‘s upcoming local author visit. My son and I had the opportunity to see Tom upon the release of his last book, too. That first night, Mark, my son, and I enjoyed the shared experience of a dinner out and seeing some of his classmates at the book signing. Most recently, my husband, Jim, took all of our kids and they were joined by his brother and our nieces, too.
In her post, author Lindsey Leavitt makes the following statements that stand out to me looking back to meeting an author when she was a student:
- “I’ve long forgotten my locker combination, the classes I took, some of my teachers names, but I vividly remember meeting Alicia.” Such a great example of an authentic opportunity! This takes writing from a pencil-paper task to connecting with the people that make stories come alive. It moves from stand-alone skill practice to a real, powerful, memorable experience.
- “I also remember thinking how ordinary she looked.” After the most recent author visit, my husband noted how Tom took time to talk with the kids and presented as such an ordinary person. This down-to-earth person wearing a Star Wars shirt connected with his audience in a way that made them feel they could become authors themselves. This doesn’t take away from the goodness of his work or make it more ordinary, but it does inspire kids, including my 5th grade son in his Star Wars shirt, to think that they, too, have stories to share.
- “My seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Mullaly, did that for me, and now teachers and librarians are doing the same thing with my books.” (Referring to teachers and librarians bringing books to the kids that will connect with them best.) This reminds me of both the power we have as educators to offer such opportunities and connections. It also speaks to the importance as a leader and as a parent to thank and encourage the people who do add such value to student learning.
So Mrs. Witcpalek and Ms. Shammas, thanks from the Melton family. We appreciate you sharing these opportunities with us and our children. And thanks, too, to authors like Tom and Lindsey who model their experience for our kids.