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Back to school teacher activities based on the book, You are My Wonders

Maryann Cusimano Love has written two extraordinary books that capture the magic and mystery of being with children: You are My I Love You (for Parents) and You are My Wonders (for teachers). This back-to-school season, I urge everyone to read You are My Wonders and possibly even post the poem in your classroom!

You are My Wonders by Maryann Cusimano Love

This is an amazing book to include in this year's professional development activities! Take time personally, gather in teams, or use as inspiration for a school-wide staff activity. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Read book and choose lines that speak to your heart, this moment, this year. Share why this particular phrase is particularly meaningful. For example, "you are my clean eraser" is "forgiveness" for first year teachers needing a safe professional environment to grow and learn. "You are my surprise" might be a mantra for a someone who hesitates with open-ended activities.
  2. Write a fake school philosophy that creates a Wonders School. For example, "At the Wonders School, we need children's hands, hearts and voices to create our wisdom. They are the thunder before flashes of learning, the the glitter that makes learning sparkle, and the wiggle and jiggle of knowledge baking into deepest understanding of themselves, the world and others."
  3. List a dozen times and places in an ordinary day when children stop being "wonders" and are mistaken as frustrating, annoying and trying. Evaluate if it's the environment, the schedule or attitudes. Set realistic, concrete goals for change.
  4. Make a video or online collage of the poem using photos from your classroom or school.
  5. Act out the teacher and children parts from the poem. Take time to truly find the right people for each - like the "straight line" teacher and the "hamster chaser" child.
  6. Assign names and situations from your own personal stories for each of the lines in the poem. No judgments about fellow teachers or about ourselves.
  7. Share the book with parents at Parent Orientation Night. If time permits, also include You are My I Love You and discuss the connections between home and school.

Even after nearly 30 years of teaching, not all teachers can be all things, especially without making very deliberate choices each and every day in the classroom. I know that I still have to work to be a child's "stillness", or their "straight line"; but I can usually be their "boots" and I try to be their "story". The poem is powerful because it captures a rare emotional truth to being a teacher and a child. Dig deep - Learn - Grow.

Happy new school year!

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