Big Friendly Guide


Thirteen years ago, I began my student teaching placement. I was assigned to a fourth grade classroom in an intermediate school which housed students in grades 4-6.

My cooperating teacher, LeAnne DeTample, helped to guide me through the 3 month assignment, while ensuring that student learning was not impacted. During that first week, LeAnne stressed the importance of reading aloud to students. She began with a Roald Dahl book, The BFG.

As she began reading to the students, they were mesmerized.

So was I.

Something about the way that she kept the students on the edge of their seats reading about “human beans” in a big, friendly voice. I didn’t know at that point how becoming an educator would change my life. But, when Leanne read aloud The BFG to students, I knew that I wanted to have the same, profound impact on students. I wanted to help them to understand the joy of learning, and the simple joy of listening to stories about a Big Friendly Giant.

This past weekend, Disney’s version of The BFG debuted on screens across the country. My children and I are very excited to see the movie, as the book has become a staple at bedtime, as it was when I finally had my own classroom. The theatrical release seems like the perfect time to send out a note of gratitude and appreciation to my cooperating teacher. While I have lost touch with her over the years, I would like to thank Leanne for setting a spark within me so many years ago. I am indebted to you for the time and energy that you spent, showing me the joy that students could experience in a classroom.

In my office, on my bookshelf, I have a copy of The BFG, signed by all of the students from my student teaching experience. The book serves as a reminder of my time with my Big Friendly Guide, Leanne.

So, thank you Leanne.

Thank you for your guidance and inspiration.

But more importantly, thank you for your big, friendly spirit.


Rich (@RACzyz)

2 thoughts on “Big Friendly Guide

  1. I can totally relate to your story Rich. While my story was not BFG, my first supervising teacher, Tony Cisneros, was instrumental in helping me understand that in order to be an effective teacher, build the relationship. Whether reading a story, finding out what interests a student, or observing a master teacher, these small pieces build the huge puzzle. I haven’t talked to Tony in many years, but his advice(which was repeated frequently) is a cornerstone to my foundation. That’s why we choose this calling. We make a difference for the kids and adults. Thanks for writing it.

    1. Thanks for sharing Bret! Building relationships is the cornerstone of all successful education!

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