Book: Class Letters - Instilling Intangible Lessons through Letters by Claire Chilton Lopezcategories: Book, Writing Letters, Connecting with Students, Intangible Qualities, High School, Student-Teacher Relationship, Teaching
Claire Chilton Lopezabout this book: I wrote the novel after spending several years in the classroom as a High School English teacher. During my teaching career, I wrote letters to my students about intangible ideas such as gratitude or perseverance because I wanted to help prepare them for life after High School. I received wonderful, thoughtful responses, and wanted to share this method of communication with other teachers, counselors, parents or anyone else who works with kids.
I began writing Class Letters while I was still teaching. My original idea was to create a "how to" book with examples of letters and responses, but I ran into copyright and privacy issues. Due to these challenges, I decided to write a "year in the life" of a High School English teacher who writes letters to her students, initially to make them consider the ramifications of a negative behavior (cheating in this case) and, ultimately, to connect with her students on a deeper level.
I used this method for about six years of my teaching career and it was always my favorite assignment.It allowed me to look at something in some depth. I asked lots of questions, offered real life examples (often from my own experience), and, primarily, tried to make them *think*. I received great feedback from the kids about the letters themselves as well as the subject at hand. I created a free PDF booklet that explains my process, available on my blog site.
Endorsement: With politicians and pundits and governors and your next door neighbor all having some opinion or another about what teachers should/could/would be doing in the classroom,… the answer comes, as we all knew it would, from a classroom teacher using the most low-tech strategy ever invented: connecting as a human being.
Claire Chilton Lopez stumbled onto this connection accidentally by writing her class a heart-felt letter. And they felt her heart and answered by writing her a letter back…. And so a human hand reaches out to touch another human hand, and learning begins as trust and love connect student and teacher.
Claire makes all the points that need to be made. It's simple. It's real. It's human. Opening a child's mind begins with opening a child's heart.
NEA Vice President
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