One evening after finally getting my own two children to bed I picked up my phone to check my work email. I quickly looked through the names of the senders before I decided which one I wanted to open first. I recognized a name I don’t often see in my inbox. A student from last year. I was fortunate to have her in my class in third grade, and again in fifth grade. She was a student you would not forget, even if you just had her once. She is now a middle schooler and I miss having her in my classroom.
Excitedly I opened the email. She has written a few times to keep in touch, also sending me a few stories she had written. I expected this email would be the same but I was wrong. She started by saying, “Did you know that other classes read The Thief of Always last year?” I did know. It went with our last unit of study in reading in fifth grade, fantasy. She went on to say that other students were talking about the conversations they had in class about the characters, themes, and symbolism. It was her favorite read aloud of the year, and it was also for many others. The students were continuing to have discussions about the book comparing it to the book they were reading now.
I was taken aback. At first, I was worried she thought I lead her to believe that our class was the only class that read this book. I reread the email and it wasn’t disappointment that she felt, she was surprised that so many had similar experiences in their fifth grade classrooms last spring. She just wanted me to know that many students cherished that time during read aloud.
I smiled to myself and thought how grateful I was that our district of fifth grade teachers gave that to our students. That our students carry those conversations and the love of books with them when they leave us and move onto middle school. Often times when they go to sixth grade I am left wondering if I served my students well. Did I teach them what they would need for the next step? On this particular evening, I was made aware that we all did.