Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

img_0628When I was doing student-teaching last year, my cooperating teacher told me that this is a good book to read for teachers. I started to read it then but I didn’t finish. Well, I am glad I read it now! It is a sweet book about a student who is frustrated in school, and the difference between how it feels inside and what the outside world sees. It made me reflect a lot on who I am as a teacher and how I see students who “misbehave,” and to try to be a little more understanding.

The teacher in this book is a sympathetic teacher called Mr. Daniels. The way he interacts with this kid named Oliver in his class is how I want to interact with my students. (And really, all children.) Oliver is this hyperactive kid who is always talking but is really a kind soul. Mr. Daniels develops a signal with Oliver to show when it’s time to tone it down. His way of talking to kids– a variety of kids that is so representative in today’s classrooms- is just amazing. When a mean girl makes a comment, he doesn’t correct her or say that it is wrong, but signals to the class that they are moving on from it. He never gets angry or frustrated and I have to learn from him. He is always complimenting his students and his praise feels genuine and particular to the student. I can go on and on about how he is the kind of teacher I hope to be. (He is like Phil my master teacher!! 🙂 )

I love the classroom community Lynda has created. It feels so realistic and in real life, every kid is as different as they are in this fictional story. They are hugely flawed but a little praise, attention, and acknowledgment go a long way. It is still time-consuming to build rapport with students, and some kids are not going to like positive attention at first because they are not used to it. However, sooner or later there will be a difference.

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