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Monday, January 23, 2012

Uplifting Young Learners


Molly Nero discusses the inspiration behind her book:

Teaching children of elementary age has been my life, so it makes sense that Smarty Pig is set in that environment.  Teaching 4th grade awakened my love of writing.  As I encouraged and nurtured my students in their own writing, my own abilities were strengthened.  Being critiqued by ten year-olds was very humbling, but allowed me to make sure that I was relating to them as my audience.  

Moving from the classroom to the music room brought changes not only to my teaching, but to my relationship to my students who ranged from kindergarteners to 5th graders now.

I was never your “typical” music teacher.   I would start class with everyone dancing along to the beat of an “Alvin and the Chipmunks” song with arms flailing and feet jumping.  Flinging music papers across the room to pass them out was another way to allow my students to escape from the structured classroom into my spontaneous music room.  Every child wore smiles from ear to ear. I worked hard to create a classroom where kids could talk to me about their frustrations concerning different things, and that has given voice to my writing.

During the state testing schedule, students would arrive for music absolutely drained and despondent. The idea for Smarty Pig came from hearing students express their growing apathy toward school after several days of taking these tests.  Testing was taking over the creativity and joy of learning.   As the years passed, I heard this from younger and younger students. 

My object in Smarty Pig is to uplift our youngest learners early in their academic life to see the value and fun in learning.  She gives learning a purpose in the lives of her family, making it important and relevant.  Other Smarty Pig stories will be dealing with more situations and frustrations that young students deal with like test-taking anxiety and bullying.  What was my inspiration for Smarty Pig?  The students that I have been blessed to teach for so many years.  They are my inspiration. 

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