Skip to main content

Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Mr. Daniels

A friend recently gave me a copy of Lynda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a Tree. I devoured the middle-grade book in just two days, and I ended it wanting to be more like the main character's teacher, Mr. Daniels.

This book reminded me of why I wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, school was a safe place for me. I felt accepted, and I knew I knew that I had adults who cared about me and that showed an unwavering commitment to making sure I learned and, most importantly, felt safe. That is exactly who Mr. Daniels is.

Ally Nickerson, the main character, suffers from dyslexia. She knows she's different from everyone else, and a few of her peers make her painfully aware that they notice it too. But things change when Mr. Daniels becomes their teacher. He treats all students with respect, and he works to show every student that all types of learning are valued.

With less than a month before school starts, this is who I want to be. Remaining steadfastly positive is so difficult when we see 150 students with 150 different needs and 150 different backgrounds and circumstances. But at the end of the day, just like I've heard said before, students don't necessarily remember what we teach them. They remember how we make them feel.

We can make every student feel valued, even if they don't show up every day. We can make every student feel valued, even if they never come prepared. We can make every student feel valued, even if we feel overwhelmed with mandates, demands, and papers to grade. We very well might be the only people that make them feel valuable.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…

Kids Wielding Critical Thinking

I first heard Cornelius Minor speak at NCTE’s convention last fall, and I was instantly impressed. He very quickly had dozens of adults moving around the room, jumping rope, making lists—learning in some of the most engaged ways.
I recently subscribed to the Heinemann Podcast and I found myself devouring the series of episodes featuring Minor. Trust me. You don’t want to miss these.The episode on “The Over-Engaged Student” is one of them. Through the story of “Prez,” a nickname given to one particular student, Minor explores ways that he is able to “turn the volume down” “but respect his enthusiasm” on the type of student that we have all encountered. You know, the one who always seems to have a comment or contribution to make, even if, at times, it might not seem relevant. And that’s when Minor says this: “One of the things that we never want to do is silence kids.” That made me stop and think about all the times that I’ve asked kids to “hold that thought” and then never returned to …