[Mentor Text Monday] What Should Be

I recently began to listen to an audiobook during my work commute- A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban. From the first chapter I was thinking about the writing as a possible mentor text (which was especially hard considering I was driving and unable to make notes for myself!). The author set up the first two chapters as polar opposites. The first chapter was about “What should be” and the second was about “What is” a reality for the character. She continues to tell the story by sharing descriptions of reality juxtaposed alongside what the main character wishes would happen in her life.

CCC licensed work by commons.wikimedia.org

CCC licensed work by commons.wikimedia.org

I liked that dichotomy so much I decided to try it on for myself as a mentor text for realistic fiction.

What should be…

The mother daughter weekend tradition that began five years ago continues annually. Each year the pair selects a new-to-them city to visit, explore, and of course to shop their way through. The mother and daughter get closer with each trip, like two peas in a pod.

What is…

The mother and daughter started the tradition, which they borrowed from other family members, with a weekend in Santa Barbara and then a trip to Seattle. Before the third trip was planned, the cancer took over. The only trips possible were when the daughter traveled from California to New Jersey to visit her sick mother. Then those trips ended too.

Then as a mentor text for informational writing.

What should be…

There is no need for social justice leadership because all students, regardless of their race, language, economic status, parent education level, abilities, or anything else, are treated equitably and are able to learn and succeed. All the world respects educators and praises their hard work. The top of each graduating class fights for the rights to become teachers, and every teacher is also a lead learner. We are educating global citizens prepared to push our country to the top in every way possible

What is…

Everyone feels they are qualified to criticize education and educators because they have all had some experience as a student. Educators fight to recruit people to enter the profession and cling to them a few years later, begging them not to leave. Teachers are exhausted. Leaders are stressed out. Not all students are successful, for a variety of reasons. Social justice leaders fight to give students a voice, to matter, to provide equity.


  • What should be versus what is in your world?
  • What might students do with this mentor text idea?

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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5 Responses to [Mentor Text Monday] What Should Be

  1. I can’t wait to read this!

  2. I almost started crying during your mother-daughter dichotomy write up— so sad and so beautiful! I have dived into the study of argumentative writing for the past two weeks and thinking about the next steps of this journey for my school site. Reading your blog reminded me that I need to get back to my writer’s workshop roots and not be so focused on such rigid writing structures or genres. Thanks for the great read and love that you honored your mother in this mentor writing example!

  3. Pingback: [Mentor Text Monday] Author’s Craft | Reflections on Leadership and Learning

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