Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Influential Novel for ANY Teacher or Student!

Today's post is meant to share a speck of an experience in the classroom and its relevance to a great book that would've been quite advantageous for me to have read years ago.
I am writing because ever since I read the novel MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine, I have thought so many times about one particular student I had several years ago and how I wish I had read this book prior to that school year. So, if it encourages another teacher out there to read the book or study up on Asperger's Syndrome, then my post is worth it! If nothing else,  pretend I'm writing in my online journal today and never intended to offend anyone that may find this a sensitive subject! :)

Several years ago, I taught a middle school student with Asperger's Syndrome. It was my first experience with a child who had AS. I think I would have been a far better teacher back then if I had only had the same perspective that I do now. 

A part of me wants to know why teachers (at least in my state) aren't required to take certain classes in this area. There's so much to be learned.
Nevertheless, with no background knowledge/experiences, no advice or suggestions, and nothing really of use from the parent, I just learned on my own how he worked, what made him tick, what his talents were, things that disturbed him, and things that he may/may not be comfortable doing. He was a very intelligent student, and, my oh my, he was quite an artist!!
My class was a good one, so I didn't have to deal with any immaturity from other students bullying him. They'd all been going to school together for quite a few years at that point, as it was a smaller school zone.
Sadly enough, too many students are bullied for 100s of reasons!  (Reasons IN THE EYES of The Bully anyway!)
That year came and went, and all went as well as I could have expected at the time--with a few meetings here and there I'd requested. I basically felt not "in the know," and I LIKE TO BE "in the know" about my kiddos needs!
I say that year went just "okay" because I would have felt more in tune with how my student perceived things and communicated with others if I'd had the chance to get into the mind of a child with AS as I did when reading Mockingbird.
The story is told from Caitlyn's point of view. Caitlyn is a young girl with AS. She is in search of closure after the death of her big brother who was killed in a school shooting. Through Caitlyn's eyes, the reader is able to really understand how one with AS perceives things or how one may interact differently with peers.
I don't want to say too much, as it's a great book you should read for yourself. But, I feel as though I have gained so much just from reading Erskine's novel. 
Again, the novel that gave me a new (or clear) perspective is Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird.
Currently, it is a summer reading book for my language arts class. However, this novel is not a difficult read and would be suitable and beneficial for students in grades 5-9---REALLY....there is so much to be learned from it!
FYI: Should you be interested in checking out the book to possibly purchase, click on the  Amazon book link at the end of this post!
Because I was so taken with this book, I went on to create several resources to use with it. I finished them this summer, and they are loaded in my online stores (TpT and TN)---If you are interested check them out:

A Literature Guide for Mockingbird

mockingbird by kathryn erskine

These items link to my TpT Store but you can find the individual resources in my TN shop! (Icon in top right sidebar!)
I would love to know your experiences that relate to this post!
Have you had the opportunity to develop new perspectives on life/social interaction or just to be exposed and enlightened by precious students in your classroom? Tell me about it!
Be well!
a smith


  1. The books sounds like a fabulous read for teachers AND students. I'm always looking for relevant books for my 8th graders. I'll check this one out as soon as I finish the 2 or 3 on my nightstand now.

    I've taught 2 boys with AS ... well, 2 who were diagnosed, probably more who were undiagnosed. I learned so much from them, but I'm sure I'll feel like I could have done much more after reading the book!


    1. I know the whole ordeal w/ 2 or 3 books on my nightstand... ALL too well! You will enjoy it for sure! Thanks for writing!!
      Have an awesome week, Kristin!

    2. Another book that deals with AS is "House Rules" by Jodi Piccoult. (Not for kids, but great for teachers!) I have such a better understanding of what some of those students must be going through. I highly recommend it.
      I'm going to check out "Mockingbird" this week!



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