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Lessons from The Giver

As I often tell my students, in life, you will encounter people that you may not necessarily get along with, and you have to adapt accordingly. For today’s Teacher Appreciation Week post, I’d like to share a lesson I learned during my first year of teaching in Kansas.

My partner teacher was a flighty, creative soul who felt passionately that it was her responsibility to teach Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak to our eighth grade girls, which left me with the entire 8th grade boys’ population for the duration of a novel unit.  

As I mentioned earlier, it was my first year teaching.  My partner teacher and I were not exactly … compatible.  I honestly felt like she threw me in the deep-end of the pool and shrugged her shoulders.  That “Sink or Swim” experience was an eye-opener for me. (And, I’m not going to lie – it did impact how I felt about “mentor” teachers.) 

I distinctly remember standing in the book room… feeling overwhelmed and completely alone. I was instructed to pick a book to teach the boys – and it had to be a book that wasn’t taught by any other teacher, and it had to be a book that we had enough copies of… and don’t forget to choose wisely, because “middle school boys are reluctant readers.” 

Simple, right?

I ended up finding copies of The Giver by Lois Lowry and I almost cried from relief.  There weren’t enough copies, but I made it work. The Giver (9780385732550): Lowry, Lois: Books
Book Cover for The Giver by Lois Lowry

 Ultimately the weeks we devoted to The Giver taught me many things I still incorporate in my craft today – and I am grateful to the students for helping me through one of the most challenging times of my first year teaching. 

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