I did my best to document the experience, keeping a slapdash journal on my laptop and writing notes on MasterCard junk mail, overdraft notices from the bank, and membership petitions from my college alumni association. Nine years later, Mr. Smith Is Magic – And Other Fantasies of a First Year Teacher is done.
LouAnne Johnson, the wonderful woman behind Dangerous Minds, likes it!
Ironically, I struggled with situating my story among “magical teaching” stories like Johnson’s. William Ayers writes, “Myths tower above the world of teaching like giant, fire-breathing dragons,” and I feared getting scorched by endless stories of well-intentioned white folk in urban schools. You know, New Teacher gives his or her Entire Life to teaching, suffers Personal Drama, makes Great and Lasting Changes, Quits.
Maybe, I thought, I could do something to change that. Maybe I could selfishly surround myself with inspiration, wit, humor, and feeling. Maybe I could investigate the mythology around these magical teachers and simultaneously provide an open space for people to tell 1st-person stories from the front lines.
This site is my attempt to make sense of what happened yesterday and years ago, to work with others to reshape the myth in some small way. Because despite everything being bad, good stuff happens every day. Superstars fly through ink cartridge dust (and green html coding coding—Keanu style) every day. This is not some footprints in the sand allegory.
This is real magical teaching.