The Yard Sale

I knew it was time, over twenty years of teaching treasures. I was that teacher, the one who bought six copies of a book so I could use it for a small group reading activity or so more than one child could read it at the carpet. That said, I sit here with twenty years of books piled up in my garage. Big books, small books, teacher resource books, Caldecott medal and honor books, phonics based readers, and more. As I scan the garage I see my favorite authors including: Eric Carle, Chris Van Allsburg, Audrey Wood, Jan Brett, Marc Brown, Robert Munsch, Kevin Henkes, Mem Fox, Ezra Jack Keats, Maurice Sendak, and Ted Arnold to name a few.

As I sifted through boxes and crates, deciding which items to sell, a flood of memories washed over me. I didn’t realize these books would bring back such vivid memories. The Grouchy Ladybug took me back to the late 1990’s. Several friends and I taught summer school each year – Eric Carle books were a favorite for the kids and staff. “Oh you’re not big enough!” the grouchy ladybug said to the elephant and she flew off. I even found the book I presented my first lesson with during student teaching, Little Beaver and Echo. My favorite read aloud books were Jonathan London’s Froggy books. Froggy Goes Swimming. Froggy Plays Soccer. I would be silly and read with a big, booming voice when Froggy’s mother or teacher called out his name. It was fun to watch the students react to his shenanigans and join in reading aloud parts of the story. I remember early on in my teaching, when I taught pre-school, one girl would get off the bus, see me and yell, “Froggy!” with a huge smile on her face as she ran over into line.

It’s 6:45am and the sale starts at 7:00. I begin to wonder, “What if no one comes?” “What on earth will I do with all these resources? Moms, Dads, Grandpas and Grandmas, educators and kids begin to move around looking for treasures among the piles. I hear one child call his mom over, “Look, here is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It looks really old. Can we get it?” I think back to when I got that same book at a yard sale or thrift store some 15-20 years ago. Another older high school age girl picked up one of Jonathan London’s Froggy books, turned and said, “This makes me happy.” I asked, “why?” She simply replied, “It reminds me of kindergarten. That was a fun time.” This made me stop and wonder. What impact did or do I have on the kids I teach each year? Yes, I had this young lady in kindergarten and today she revisited a simpler time, a fun time in her life.

If you pull out a handful of your classroom books, what memories do you have? In what ways did you impact student learning? What might the students say?


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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