Today I want to introduce a new series here on Top Shelf Text: Teacher Talk! These posts will be more education-oriented than my typical children's literature posts, but they are also aimed at parents who want to bring more educational material into their homes!
I want to kick off the series with a list of books that I'm using to set the tone in my classroom this year. As teachers, we want to encourage our students to work together as a community of leaders, learners, and friends. Many of these books will help to facilitate discussions about how best to treat others, to treat ourselves (positive self talk!) and to life each other up in the face of challenges. I think the true aim of all teachers is to help make the world a better place, and to me doing that starts with modeling those behaviors (be the change you wish to see) and using literature to show students how to do the same.
Talking Points: compassion, kindness, being an active bystander
Essential Questions: If we decided to make our school and our world a better place, what kinds of things could we do? What would make you feel happy to come to school each day?
Talking Points: creativity, teamwork
Essential Question: What does this book teach us about working together? What would happen if everyone approached new challenges in the same exact way?
Talking Points: manners, kind/unkind behaviors
Essential Questions: What was the difference between the rude cakes and the giant cyclopses? Which one would you rather be friends with, and why?
Talking Points: teamwork, pursuing personal interests, second chances
Essential Questions: Did Iggy give up when he was told that there was no place for architecture in second grade? What happened when Miss Greer kept an open mind?
Talking points: acts of kindness, community
Essential Questions: What acts of kindness could we do in this classroom and in our school community?
Talking Points: manners, individual differences
Essential Questions: How can we use the ideas from Do Unto Otters to write our classroom rules?
I'll be using many of these books over the course of our first two weeks and then at regular intervals throughout the year to keep my students thinking about what kind of actions make for a positive classroom culture.
I want to also add that, because I am a substantially separate special education teacher, the stigma that we try to prevent in schools is often directed at my students. Some of them look different from their typically developing peers, and some look the same but act differently. Teaching children (both in school and at home) to treat everyone with kindness has become increasingly important to me as I teach in a classroom of students who really need extra TLC. I hope that encouraging parents and other teachers to use literature to teach kindness in the classroom will help to make our world just a little bit safer for all children.
Do you have a book that you'd like to add to this list? Comment below! I'm always looking to grow my collection!