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ZOO-MATE WANTED by Korrie Leer

Hello teacher friends!  I hope this post finds you feeling magnificent, speeding ahead with your lessons and filled with joy from your delightful, rule-following cherubs. But if you are like me, you are struggling. Not all the time. But sometimes.

The picture-perfect class community I imagined forming with my students is taking longer than expected to come together. Their interpersonal skills vary from day to day and we are all stumbling along. I am finding I need to allow myself and my students grace and remember that this is not a typical year. My second graders have never had a full school year in their life and how can I possibly expect a typical timeline from them or me. Instead, I am choosing to give them what they are showing they need. Patience and support. And one of the ways I am choosing to support them is through picture books and the wonderful lessons that can be learned through them.

Enter ZOO-MATE WANTED from author-illustrator Korrie Leer. This book playfully addresses the difficulties that come when twin roommates, Leah and Lilly decide they have nothing in common, except for sharing a room. After Lilly storms out, Leah tries out a series of wild roommates whose antics help her learn to compromise and appreciate what she already had.

As a class we drew inspiration from Leah’s wanted flyer and imagined advertising for our own classroom. What would we want in a new classmate? What qualities or attributes would they possess that would help make our classroom a better place to learn?

Recognizing what they wanted in a peer helped the students reflect on their own attributes and identify areas of strength and need.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the social-emotional learning and growth that our class is building. We will continue to have these conversations and gradually build our class community and interpersonal skills. It will definitely take longer than most years and that’s okay.

We will get there.

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