I love bookstores so much. They give me a great opportunity to look at covers, read descriptions, flip through the pages, and really get an idea of if I want to buy it on Amazon. It that bad to admit? …That I don’t actually buy from book stores? I don’t think I should feel like a bad patron. Essentially, how is this any different from watching previews at a theater only for the trailer to end and you say, “I’m totally going to rent that!” See, same concept! I went to Barnes and Nobel for the holiday weekend and browsed my favorite sections, one of those of course being “Education.” It is a sadly small little corner tucked away in the back of the store. I believe in should be in the center with like halo lights over it and noises streaming from the shelves that are heavenly. I’m not sure most of society would agree, but I know who would, Christopher Emdin. I just discovered this guy when I found the book, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too. Hands down best title I’ve ever seen. He nailed it with his frankness. I shook my head in appreciation and died laughing all in the same moment. That is how you get a reader’s attention. Let me try his strategy….my book 180 Days of Awesome is for folks with any color skin who are trying to educate the youth of America, and especially for y’all who aren’t always real positive about it! Did it work? Did that tagline get your attention?…. And in case you were curious, I totally went home and bought this book on the Amazon.
Paper grading. That thing that you thought was so exciting as a pre-service teacher and that thing that has….. other emotions these days. So maybe grading isn’t all it is cracked up to be, but there are some exciting emotions that sweep over me each time I pick up my favorite pen to grade. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, something I shake my head, and sometimes I give high-fives. So pretty much the same emotions that sweep over me when I watch politics… This week my heart exploded for joy as I read a question that asked students to describe a picture of a baby on a genetic level. They simply had to make observations about the adorable kid and give two answers that would help to describe their genetic-makeup. Many kids picked to talk about hair color or eye color. Both really good answers! But the answer I found most fascinating was when my awesome students decided to talk about skin color. Adults likely would have said the baby was “white” or “Caucasian.” I had zero student do this, however. Their answers spilled over with love, acceptance, and evidence that they don’t care about color of skin. They picked words like, “tan skin” and “pale skin” and “yellow skin” and my personal favorite “peach skin.” I really believe most kids don’t see things as black and white and I mean that both literally and figuratively. They see people. And I see love.
Guest speakers are awesome opportunities for education. These people bring in a different perspective, stories, and insights that the classroom teacher often can’t. Kids love it because it mixes things up and they often feel like there is a celebrity in the classroom. When I announced to my kids that a guest speaker would be in my room on Wednesday more kids than I can count said, “Is it actually going to be you just dressed up or speaking in an accent or something?” They know my tricks too well… I was happy to report to them that this time when I said guest speaker I really meant it. Drum roll for who it was…… (drumming sounds) Molly Genta, my sista! Woot, woot, woot! Having her in my room is a highlight of each year no doubt. She is not just a rock-star nurse, she is also my bff, and has an incredible story to share with kids. The theme, “Love the Skin You’re In.” You see, my sister suffered from a rare, terrible, life threatening disease 10 years ago. It’s called TENS, an even more severe case of something called Stevens Johnson’s Syndrome. Beyond all odds and the doctors who gave her a 5% of living, Molly totally came out on top as she battled for weeks in a burn unit. She does an incredible job telling her story to my students and teaching about advocacy. I am proud to let her take over my class each year to provide a lesson to kids that is truly miraculous.
The positivity bug has caught a number of my students and I could not be more excited about it. I truly believe happy, energetic, and encouraging emotions are contagious. One positive moment has the power to impact the whole day in a great way. A few weeks ago we spread joy on the windshield wipers of cards. This week it was all about the positivity posters. My advisory family worked hard to create messages that would bring joy to people. Lots of them looked up encouraging quotes in books and others used their art skills to draw amazing picture representations of happiness. Then we hit the streets! For 30 minutes we stood on the sidewalk in front of the school waiving, smiling, dancing, and holding the posters of positivity. Hundreds of cars drove by and showed their appreciation by honking, waving back, and even rolling down the windows to say thank you and explain how much they not only appreciated it, but how much they needed it. Spreading joy in the community makes a difference!
Hello fall! When I think of fall the first thing that comes to mind is the overwhelming number of pumpkin spice items that are about to hit the market. I don’t want to ruin anybody’s fall spirit, but for real? That isn’t even a good flavor! It tastes like a bad candle. Ugh. Swear to goodness, theses days you can buy anything these days in pumpkin spice, coffee, donuts, ice cream, toilet paper, tacos. Everything! I’m going to start offering pumpkin spice professional development. Enough about pumpkins. The second thing that comes to my mind when I think of fall, bonfires! Tonight we had an amazing event where literally hundreds of kids stayed after school to participate in festivities. My school does an awesome job of making this an exciting event. Hot dogs, music, outdoor activities, and of course, one amazing fire are set-up in our school “backyard.” As it started to get a little chilly outside and I heard the crackling of the wood, an intense feeling of appreciation swept over me. I’m thankful for fall and I’m thankful that nobody falls into the fire each year. (That was a joke, it’s ok to laugh. There is plenty s’more where that came from!)