As the beginning of the school year is getting underway, I thought I’d do a quick post on one of my favorite children’s books. In my opinion, classic children’s literature contains lessons that are not only applicable to children, but adults, too. A prime example of this would be the book “Thank You, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco.
This book tells of a young girl who struggles in her schoolwork. The kids make fun of her and call her names, which of course causes her to feel badly about herself. The young girl is brought under the wing of a special teacher, Mr. Falker, who teaches her that she is not unintelligent, nor is she worthy of the criticism and bullying she’s been receiving from her classmates. He teaches her she is smart and she is good. He also discovers she is dyslexic, and this is causing her to not be able to learn at the same pace as everyone else, due to the fact that the words just aren’t coming together in the right way for her. Together they work to come up with strategies to overcome this challenge, and she gains confidence in her ability to learn, grow, and achieve. At the end of the book, the reader discovers that this is a true story, and that the struggling little girl is none other than the author herself. You can read Patricia’s own words here.
Books like this make me think of the wonderful teachers I had in my life who inspired me in ways they’ll never know. I had such terrific teachers growing up – men and women who inspired me, encouraged me, motivated me, challenged me, and most of all…put up with me! They were truly a blessing to the students they nurtured and taught each day. I can remember when I was in third grade my teacher used to give me the extra copies of worksheets so that I could play “school” at home with my younger brother and neighborhood friends. I had my own little classroom, complete with schooldesks, walls decorated with informative posters that I made myself, and even a gradebook that I begged my mom to take me to the teacher supply store to buy. I looked up to my teachers so much that I couldn’t help but imitate them. And, from that point on, I wanted more than anything to share my love of learning with everyone. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. When I went to college, during my interview with the Education Department, I was asked “Why do you want to become a teacher?” I responded “Because I love to learn.” The woman conducting the interview looked up at me, smiled, and said “That is the perfect answer. A good teacher first must love to learn.” I have never forgotten that statement. When I was a classroom teacher, I tried to keep focused on my love of learning when presenting information to my students. If I am interested in it, there’s a much greater chance that they will be, too. That energy, enthusiasm, and drive is what makes people passionate. My goal was to create life-long, passionate learners.
I am not currently teaching in the classroom (long story), but I do try to keep my love of learning active and alive. I am forever grateful for the teachers who took time out for me, and who were my very own “Mr. Falker”s. For noticing me, for reassuring me, and yes, for pushing me, I too must say to each of them – “Thank You.”