April 12, 2016

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Just Right Teacher

We're heading to New York City tomorrow. I grew up in New Jersey, with that great skyline in view. I fell deeper in love as a student at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts (Dramatic Writing, natch!)

I love sharing my favorite city with the kids.

And while we're on the topic of favorites, this past school year my daughter had her favorite teacher yet.

There's an elementary-level quatrain poem lesson coming, so skip ahead if you like. Or, read on for the back story.

In third grade, my daughter had a wonderful teacher, who left on paternity leave. He was a young guy and loved to tease the kids. My daughter says, "He knew how to tease you so you'd feel good about yourself." She was heartbroken when he left and never connected with the long-term sub.

(When her grandfather died six months later, my daughter cried, "I can't go through this again!" and I realized just how deeply she experienced the loss of her teacher.)

I was thrilled when we got my daughter's fourth-grade assignment this past August. The wonderful Mrs. Bray!

Jenny Bray joined the school when my son was in fourth grade and moved up with his class to fifth. I knew she was a warm teacher and decent person, but after my son had moved on to middle school, I'd gotten to know Mrs. Bray through mutual friends.

She's smart, even-tempered and her love for kids shines through everything she does. My daughter needed someone to encourage her and love her up. Jenny Bray was the Just Right Teacher.

One of the things Jenny did for my girl was encourage her love of creative writing. During the last week of school -- when videos were on in classrooms all over Maryland -- Jenny taught a lesson on quatrain poems.

Her model poem is "The Night Is a Big Black Cat" by G. Orr Clark. It begins...

The Night is a big black cat,
The Moon is her topaz eye...

You'll find the rest to read and hear at Highlights Kids. This poem is deceptively simple. It teaches form: rhyming quatrain; but it also develops an animal metaphor over four short lines.

For those of you, like me, who use Emily Dickinson's "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers" as a model for animal metaphors, "The Night Is a Big Black Cat" is an option for younger grades or newly emerging writers.

Here is the assigned poem that my daughter wrote in class. Oh, did Mrs. Bray fuss over her.

The Hurricane Is a Circling Hawk

by J. Shovan (age 10)

The Hurricane is a circling hawk, searching for food.
The Sea is its mother.
The Humans below are its prey.
It whirls and twirls, ready to smother.

The morning of the last day of school, I suggested to my daughter that she write another quatrain metaphor, this one about her teacher, to share with the class. We worked on fine-tuning a few words together.

Mrs. Bray

by J. Shovan

Mrs. Bray is a gentle deer
watching her fawns with a caring eye.
She teaches them to survive the forest of school,
but when summer comes, they say goodbye.

Okay, go get a hankie. Then stop by some  more Poetry Friday blogs posted at today's host, awesome Maryland kids' poet Heidi M. at My Juicy Little Universe. Hi, Heidi!


Linda said...

Oh, the power of a caring teacher! I love your daughter's poem. Mrs. Bray will cherish the poem forever.

I'm attending our regional conference next weekend for the first time. I hope I get a chance to meet you there!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Wow. Loving J.'s quatrains! "the forest of school"...

Listen, it's not me this week--according to my deal with Mary Lee, I'm on the 16th. I do hope you're the only one who ended up confused! (It's my first time and I'm nervous.)

Does your note to me mean that you're off next Friday?

Tabatha said...

Beautiful poems by your daughter!

Have a great trip!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Linda. Looking forward to meeting you. Tabatha & Heidi, are you going to the regional conf this weekend?

I was in such a rush to get to NYC, I posted to the wrong host. Oh, well. I'm glad you all found me and stopped by. It's fun to share my own kids' work from time to time.