The other day I was observing in a fourth grade classroom when the teacher introduced an activity called “Autobiography Book Bags.” Each student was asked to bring in three books that represent them. One book would be from their early childhood, another from the middle of their existence and the last being the most recent. The students were excited about it, several talking about the books that they would bring.
I walked out of the room and went about my day…and then I started thinking about this assignment. On a whim I emailed the teacher and asked if I could participate in the assignment too. I’m not sure what she thought initially, but she said that it would be great to have me be a part of it.
I set about thinking about the assignment and I must admit, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. I took a loooooooooong time to figure out what books I wanted to bring, what I wanted to share about each, how it connected to me and my life.
I eventually settled on:
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson was my pick for my early years. I shared with the fourth graders that I lived this book…drew on the walls trying to make my own magic castles. Immediately several students showed the classroom signal for connections (meaning they could relate).
Image from etsy.org and en.wikipedia.org
For the middle years I chose anything by Susan Cooper and couldn’t resist a My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I was amazed at the students that hadn’t heard of either of these books. I borrowed copies from our school library and immediately several students said that they would like to take those out…as soon as possible.
The last one was the hardest…this is what represents me now, in the present. I read a lot of stuff right now, but I always go back to an old tattered copy of Robert Frost’s poems. I wanted to share this with our fourth graders not only to tell a little about myself, but more to show them that poetry is cool! That’s right, you heard me say it!
Now to the Principal part of this. Believe it or not I didn’t write this to share the inner workings of Principal Berry….no! Instead I wanted to share what I learned and experienced just by asking a teacher if I could participate in an assignment!
By participating in a classroom activity I:
- was able to experience, from a student’s perspective, an activity and assignment. This gave me a chance to reflect on what I learned. When I watched students share their books I had a better understanding of their level of connection with the texts. I also had a better appreciation for the outcomes that students shared.
- showed students that the work they do is important…not just to them, but to others in the school.
- was able to share a bit about myself and connect with students in ways that I wouldn’t sitting in the back of the room
- promote reading…and poetry…that can’t be bad, right?
- learned a little about myself and that’s pretty cool.