Five months ago I was asked, “Have you ever considered writing a children’s book?” The answer came quick, a resounding Yes with a But, I never knew how to start. The response? “You just start!” So? I started. And just like that, Gracie was born.
I started writing almost immediately. I jotted down ideas, but I already knew exactly what I wanted to write about. It was easy, I pulled from my classroom experiences. Gracie is about a disconnected little girl whose learning comes to life when she’s introduced to a new way of thinking. When her teacher brings a robot into the classroom and teaches Gracie to code she unlocks a world of creativity, innovation and discovery she’d never imagined. I taught Gracie. She is every student who has ever been searching for her purpose in school. She is every child who is waiting for that one teacher to help them discover their passion. In fact I’ve taught many Gracies.
Like most teachers, I have a list of students who have left lasting impressions on me. Students who needed me to think differently, to dig deep and reflect, to change what teaching looked like because what I was doing simply wasn’t reaching them. They are Gracie. For every Gracie I’ve ever taught I learned the importance of meeting them where they are, not where I want them to be. Every Gracie has reminded me that I have two choices as an educator: I can teach the curriculum or I can teach the child. When you teach the child, you have to listen more and talk less. You have to watch them and reflect on you. You have to find out what makes those disconnected, uninterested kids tick.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an advocate for the use of technology in our classrooms – in every classroom, no matter the grade. I’ve been loud about my opinions about what our students can create and learn with technology. For Gracie, her hook was a robot. It gave her a way to express her creativity. It gave her a voice. Not everyone’s hook will be a robot or even technology. It might just be you. I am not of the opinion that every class needs a robot to keep kids happy. I do, however, believe that it is our job as educators to find out what hooks our Gracies. They need that. They deserve that.
Five months ago I was asked, “Have you ever considered writing a children’s book?” Five months later, I wrote a children’s book.