Slice of Life Tuesday: Of Albie and noticing…


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I finished reading Lisa Graff’s book Absolutely Almost  in one sitting – I did not answer the phone, walk the dog, or help myself to a cool drink – even though it was a warm day out there on the porch, and I could have used a cool drink.  I was, of course, captivated by Albie’s story, but what really kept me reading and glued to my spot was the fact that I was also thinking of all the Albies who had passed through my classroom, all the Albies who needed me to pay attention, all the Albies who needed me to show them that I believed in them – so they could believe, too.


Graff’s Albie does things just a bit slower, but he tries just a bit harder – in math, in spelling, in figuring things out. Here’s a passage I read and re-read and teared up over each time:

“I bet no one noticed either that when Mr. Onorato came in for science last year and asked who thought the tall, skinny glass could hold more water than the short, fat one, I was the only kid who raised my hand wrong.  I bet no one noticed, because I raised it really quick, and then I noticed nobody else had their hand up, so I put mine down.  And I sit in the back anyway.

(It was a trick question besides, because both glasses held the same exact amount of water.  Somehow everyone else knew that already.)

I bet no one even noticed I stopped raising my hand in class.

I don’t think that anyone but me notices any of those things. I’m really good at noticing.

I hope I’ll always be a better noticer than everybody else.”(pgs. 28-29)

The Albies I have had learned to be the best noticers: they noticed when it was time to leave the classroom to visit the school nurse, and when it was time to “lose” an assignment.  They noticed the way their classmates avoided making eye contact when it was time to choose partners for projects, and they noticed the tasks they were assigned when they were finally chosen.

And they were especially good at noticing what I noticed.  I think they hoped that I would always be a better noticer than everybody else, too.  They were counting on it.   Because, if I wasn’t noticing, what was the point of showing up every day?

be kind


18 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Of Albie and noticing…

  1. I am reading this book right now too (although I can’t do it in one sitting unfortunately). It is also making me think about all the Albie’s I’ve had in my room and will make me be more observant of my future Albie’s. This is a must read for all teachers!


  2. Your post is beautiful and I appreciate the connections along with the opportunity that you remind us to reflect on our Albie’s within our classrooms. Your closing is powerful.

  3. Thank you from all the Albie’s you have ever noticed and encouraged. They appreciate it! It is easy to notice the loud ones; not so easy the quiet ones who cause no disturbance and demand no attention – so easily overlooked and forgotten; the teacher’s smile or quiet word of acknowledgment or encouragement can change that life forever.
    I love the quote at the top of your blog, and the one at the end of the post.
    Thank you for sharing such a positive message.

  4. I have it & maybe it should be next. From all I’ve read, I really think that all teachers should be reading this book, Tara. I have a book I so value, out of print but still available, that helps me find ways to make this different. Here is the link: Thanks for sharing more. “And I sit in the back anyway.” heartbreaking to think of a child hiding! Thanks for a beautiful post-should share with Lisa Graff!

  5. Sounds like this is a book I need to check out. We all have had an Albie or two throughout our careers. How easy is is to overlook them with all of the drama that happens every day in a classroom.

  6. Thanks for the beautiful post. I am headed to Oregon next week, and will be visiting my favorite independent book store in the whole word. This book is now on my list. As teachers, as human beings, we all need to become better noticers, and listen with our heart before we speak. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Oh I love Lisa Graff, and I don’t have this one. What an important point: “… if I wasn’t noticing, what was the point of showing up every day?” Thanks for the book recommendation and the reminder.

  8. What a wonderful post! I am in such a reading slump, but with how you wrote about this book I think it just may be what gets me out of it!

    I am going to come back to this post in a few weeks when a new year begins; it is such an important reminder of what should really be on my mind as a teacher/person.

  9. I just love all the book recommendations that are coming through the blogs at SOL at the moment. I feel like I need a whole book by my side to write them all down. This one will go on my list. Also, I just LOVE your new blog header, I think it is so special.

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Absolutely Almost, Tara. It has been on my radar, but is now on my list! It’s so important for teachers to read books like this to give us a better understanding of our students’ perspective.

  11. I loved, loved, loved this book for the exact same reasons you did. All the Albies that I’ve had in my room ran through my mind as I read. I am so sad that I won’t have my own class to read it to next year, but am hoping that I can talk some teachers into reading it. I love the quote you shared at the end. I’ve shared that on FB and it’s so very true. It’s important to remember that everyone has struggles even if there’s a smile on their face. Thanks Tara!

  12. Pingback: Celebrate This Week: Beginnings, Volumes and a Milestone | To Read To Write To Be

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