“Teachers, please have ALL 7th graders to the auditorium seated at 11:00am. The admin will be leading a ‘restart,” I heard during the morning announcements by the principal in a sternerr-than-usual voice.
Yikes, I thought. Which school rule needs addressing and really…this close to winter break?
“Ms. Donnelly, you’re needed in the auditorium. Now. ” the school secretary commanded.
Really, I thought. Did someone forget to tell me I was helping with the 7th grade restart assembly?
“Don’t ask why. Just follow me to the auditorium. And can I use your phone for a minute?” my colleague requested.
My phone, I thought. I guess. But why? What’s really going on here. As I entered the filled auditoium, the 7th grade AP was settling the students as she spoke through the mic.
“When I say ‘Phoenix’, you say….” and the audience shouted “RISE!
Phoenix – RISE – Phoenix – RISE. ” and then she share, “A text I want to use today to help us with our restart
is a book I know Mrs. Donnelly likes,
a book by author Kwame Alexander called The Door of No Return…..”
At that moment it hit me…….
You see, months ago, I created a lesson for my students to learn about Kwame, a favorite author of mine.
I made this padlet and added these directions.
Meet Kwame Alexander!!
Directions: Follow from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3 to Step 4.
After each step, add a one sentence response by clicking the bubble.
After learning about him, I asked for volunteers to help make a video to send to Kwame to persuade him to visit our school for free (his contest announced in Step 3). Together we drafted a script and 5 students agreed to deliver our message.
HERE is our video which I shared on instagram for Kwame.
Then I kinda forgot about it. Every so often a student would ask, “Is Kwame coming? Did he pick us?”
And I would say, “Not sure.” But inside, I really, really, really wanted him to pick us!!
You see, personally, I’ve attended many, many Kwame events. I consider myself a Kwame-groupie!
I’ve blogged about two of them here and here .
But these events I attended on my own and never included my own students.
If he picks us, he’d visit the school!!! Our students would meet him!!! They’d be like the students in Step 2, I thought.
And suddenly it all clicked. Kwame had picked us!
The auditorium erupted as he entered from the back. I about lost my mind! A student told me afterwards, I looked like I had drank a very large energy drink because she saw me jumping up and down. “OMG….we won!! He’s really here!!” I shouted junping up and down.
He took the mic and said. “I have one word to share. SURPRISE!!”
Then for 40 minutes, he shared poems, all from memory. He shared about his new book. Just when we had us all on the edge of our seats, he stopped….you’ll have to read the rest on your own!! He answered loads of MS questions. Favorite color – black. Favorite number – 1. Favorite to win the World Cup – England. Where does he get his inspiration – from visits like this where kids wearing cool hats and who have cool hair! How often does he write – every day for 4 hours from 7-11am. Did he ever want to be something besides a writer – a tennis player and a pediatrician but in college, he tried biology and quickly changed his major to poetry. (The world is so lucky he did!)
Then he circled the auditoium, taking selfies with the audience. And kindly posed for a photo with me and the box of books he gifted us!!
WOW!!!! Today was my favorite day at DHMS!!
Here’s the link to see Kwame’s entrance at my school.
He does have the best job!!
And today he made me realize I have a pretty great job, too!!
Which author would you love to have a surprise visit from??!!!
HERE is our Instragram THANK YOU to Kwame.
HERE is the video of his 25 minute surprise presentation!!