Derek’s Mission

This all began when I arrived at my portable classroom on the edge of campus ready to change the world with my magical teaching.

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. Twelve 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 folks 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 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. Superstars fly through ink cartridge dust every day. This is not some footprints in the sand allegory.

This is real magical teaching.



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