So the fine folks of Pensacola absolutely implored me to come visit their school district because my book Homeboyz (so they swore) is absolutely beloved. (And if I was going to be in Orlando, I just could not leave the state of Florida without speaking to their students — and their teachers who were looking for innovative, exciting, refreshing and effective ways to reach their struggling students)
It was MAGICAL! I spoke to hundreds of kids who had read my books. (They couldn’t believe I was white.) I met hundreds of teachers who had taught or who were about to teach my books. (They were SO incredibly eager, excited and generous — Pensacola was IN THE HOUSE!!!) I signed so many books my hand is freakin’ killing me, I spoke so many words my voice is absolutely wrecked, I shared gobs of lessons, strategies and insights that instead of being drained I felt energized (caffeine helps), I’ve switched into 3 different times zones in 4 days and slept in different hotel beds with different pillows and had different levels of water pressure in the shower so that physically, emotionally and mentally I am just absolutely flying and absolutely drained all at the same time.
But I also feel America’s classroom are changing. It’s happening out there. People are sick of the textbooks. People are tired of the buffoonery that runs hand in hand with one size (supposedly) fits all material. People are eager to use real books that kids love to cultivate authentic literacy and reach real kids in ways that are true to their souls.
It’s absolutely incredible to see. I have a front row seat to a grass roots movement and while it’s personally quite taxing, I feel as if I am doing public service by visiting, chatting up and inspiring our nations kids and teachers. (BTW, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is catching fire… multicultual kids, especially girls, are falling in love with the book.)
It might take all the strength I’ve got, but today was a day that proves there are things that are really working in America’s classrooms which the mainstream media does not cover. Things like Raven, who came up and told me that Homeboyz was the first real book she’s ever read in her life (and she’s a junior in high school) and now she is excited to read something new. Things like Ms. Boles doing Book Chats with kids who have been labelled dis-fluent by the state of Florida. (Dis-fluent? What the hell is that? You can’t make this stuff up!) Things like Esther posting that she’s bummed I am gone but thrilled that a rock solid sub, Mrs. Sampson, is taking my classroom in great directions while I am gone.
And now it’s time for a 9:30 p.m. dinner by myself. After, I am going to grade some student outlines I brought with me to Florida to make sure the expository essays we are working on at Lynwood are spot on.
If it sounds bonkers, it is.
But I did buy my daughter a cool gift and when I get home there’s a heck of a lot of daddy time coming. A b-day party for cousin Talia this weekend, maybe a walk down the beach with my wife and a BBQ in the Southern California weather.
Mix in a little sleep and then I’ll be good to go to help our nation once again next week. But up next, family. If I screw that up while I am out trying to change the world I am a bigger idiot than anyone else on the internet. There’s a fine line between work and work-a-holic and if I sacrifice the people most important to me to help be of service to something that is a vacuum with and endless suck (i.e. the needs of our country’s public schools) I am a fool.
Goodness, when they say teachers don’t work hard, I am not sure who the heck they are talking about. I meet hard working educators all the time. It’s our badge of honor.
And in Florida, I just met scores of them.
Keep it up folks — you rock!!