Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Want To Be Mr. Slinger

Lilly and her boots
My daughter's boots

My five-year-old daughter wears a pair of red cowboy boots that remind me of Lilly's. They aren't exactly the same, as my daughter is quick to point out to me, but quite similar. At the library today we checked out Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse so that I could introduce her to a character with the same fashion sense.

I haven't read the book in a while. Reading it to her this afternoon I was so impressed with Mr. Slinger. Why he struck me so today I am not sure. Possibly when I read the book previously I was a more patient, understanding teacher than I am at the moment.

In case you haven't read the book, the basic story is that Lilly brings her new purse, sunglasses, and quarters to school and ends up distracting everyone with them. Mr. Slinger, very gently, takes them away until the end of the day. Lilly is furious. At the end of the day Mr. Slinger returns her things to her with a sweet note and bag of snacks. He even encourages her to bring them back to school, as long as they aren't distracting.

Mr. Slinger recognizes Lilly's genuine excitement about her new things. He tries to help her hold off until the appropriate time to share them, but when she can't he gently takes them with the promise of keeping them safe until the end of the day. Then he manages to return them with encouragement to try again tomorrow, both in his spoken words and in his note.

I am not that teacher. At least not right now. I believe I am having trouble seeing my students as young kids with all the natural and wonderful behaviors that includes. I'm taking Mr. Slinger as my model for the rest of this year. I hope I can make his actions a part of me. My students deserve that.

Images of Lilly from Kevin Henkes' lovely site.


Sue VanHattum said...

Jenny, I love how you keep trying to be a better teacher. You're a role model for me. (Even though I teach college.)

Jenny said...

Sue, to my mind one of the greatest things about the blogosphere and this online professional world is how much it has expanded the types of people from whom I learn. Instead of just reading professional books by other elementary teachers and journal articles by elementary education academics, I read thoughts, ideas, questions, and such from folks at all levels and with so many different experiences. It is amazing to me.

Alison said...

Whenever I read this aloud I always tear up when I get to the part with Mr. Slinger's note about today being a hard day but tomorrow being better. If only we could always get that kind of positive message across to the little ones who pushed our buttons all day (and ourselves).

Jenny said...

Alison, that's exactly how I feel. There are times when I manage to respond like Mr. Slinger, but I know it is not the norm. I'd like it to be my typical response and the frustration/impatience/annoyance to be the exception.

Scott said...

I know exactly what you mean. I've had some moments lately that would not please Mr. Slinger. This week my frustration fuse was pretty short - I didn't say or do anything I shouldn't but I could feel that frustration building. Guess I was having a hard day myself.

Here's to Mr. Slinger!

Jenny said...

Scott, we do all have hard days. I like to think that even Mr. Slinger must have hard days! Sadly, I do say and do things I know I shouldn't and regret it later. Nothing horrific, but not the way I want to treat my students. Mr. Slinger is my model for which I strive.