Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Teacher Dances on the Desk

My Teacher Dances on the Desk was written by Eugene Gagliano and illustrate by Tatjana Mai-wyss.  It was published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2009.

When I was looking through the poetry section of my local library, I found many great choices, but I knew I wanted to read something fun and silly; something I would like to share with my children and students. I found that in My Teacher Dances on the Desk.  The book caught my eye because of the title.  Being a teacher, I thought, "Well, this looks like it would be something kids would enjoy. How often do they get to read about teachers being silly?"  When I opened it, it did not disappoint.

My Teacher Dances on the Desk is a collection of 46 poems, all written by former teacher, Eugene Gagliano.  When I read that he had been a teacher, the first question that entered my mind was, "I wonder if any of the poems are from true events that happened in his teaching career?" According to the synopsis written on Amazon.com, the poems were taken from personal experiences of Gagliano and his students.  "Former teacher Eugene Gagliano had a front-row seat to the everyday trials of school life. In honor of all students who have ever grappled with show-and-tell missteps and problematic classmates, he's penned a clever poetry collection, My Teacher Dances on the Desk. Episodes from every aspect of school life, from visiting the school nurse to sitting next to the wrong student, are told through humorous verse."

As I read each poem, I could picture a former student of my own or a colleagues that fit that poem perfectly, but my favorite poem in his collection is the one that reminded me most of my older son, Teacher Never Calls on Me.

Teacher Never Calls on Me
"I know! I know! I know!"
I raise my hand to say,
But teacher never calls on me.
It happens every day.

"Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!"
I stretch my hand up high,
But teacher never calls on me
No matter how I try.

I strain my face and grit my teeth.
I twist and turn and sigh,
But teacher just ignores me.
I often wonder why.

When I don't know the answer,
And hide by being still,
It's my luck she'll call on me.
I know she surely will.

This reminds me of my older son because there have been so many days he comes home from school complaining that the teacher didn't let him answer a question all day long (much exaggeration, I'm sure!).  He loves to talk in class and explain things to other people, so he doesn't quite get that he isn't the only one in class that should be called on! 

This poem book has much simpler poems than the other books I have read, but it was my favorite so far.  I like poems that rhyme.  Teaching younger students, and struggling readers, I like poems that will get students laughing and want to read several times, which will help build their fluency and word knowledge.  My Teacher Dances on the Desk also reminds me a bit of Shel Sylverstein's work.  Most pages have their own poem, with a black and white illustration next to it.  The illustrator, Tatjana Mai-wyss does her black and white illustrations using India ink and a dip pen.  I think the simplicity of the illustrations fit the poems perfectly.  There was no need for detailed drawings when the poetry allowed for you to envision what was happening within the class at the time.  You can find more about Mai-wyss at her blog, http://tatjanawyss.blogspot.com

To find a copy of My Teacher Dances on the Desk near you, check out Worldcat

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