“Books saved my life” is the quote that stands with me after watching Luis J. Rodriguez read from his new poetry book, Borrowed Bones. My students have always read books from Rodriguez. At first, it was kids from foster homes that gravitated to the Rodriguez biography, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L. A. But now, you could walk in and find any variety of students reading the first biography, or It Calls You Back. As for myself, I’ve only read a couple of his poetry books: The Concrete River and My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems 1989-2004.
Rodriguez is personable and he writes with a realism that can make you laugh, or feel the twist of a blade. Though I’ve had so many students read his books, though his book is so often stolen from libraries by kids who might also be able to say: A book saved my life, there were very few people out in the morning to see the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles share his work. Regardless, he told stories as if he was among friends that he hadn’t seen in a long time.
Peter, a charming, comedic man with a cute dog, begins his story at 43. The first chapter, “Diagnosis Blues,” introduces Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as a psychedelic meteor that disrupts all aspects of life, and needs the intervention of a certain ‘angel.’ Will Peter outlive his suicidal thoughts?
After reading the first 4 chapters, turning off the lights for a later -than-normal bedtime of midnight, I was compelled to flip the switch and complete the final chapters. Dunlap-Shohl is insanely talented at layouts, designs, coloring, storytelling, metaphors, and metacognition. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys intelligent, comedic, real-life narratives.
“No one should be talking!” Have you ever heard these words come out of your mouth? “Oooh! Ooooh! Pick me! Pick me!” teacher hand waving wildly in the air. I call it: adopting the Teacher Tone and it’s something that tends to happen to me a bit more towards the end of the year. I turn into that crazy-manic teacher who says things that I’d never want said to me. But why, after all of these years, does it still happen? Now seems like a perfect time to review triggers, and ask: How do you know you’re creating a culturally responsive and inclusive environment?
Is it because I’m an SDC teacher that I have sweat-inducing, heart-stopping, nightmare-inspiring thoughts whenever I consider releasing control to the students in the classroom? Or is this a common, yet-named teacher illness that should have its own label as defined by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? Regardless of the answers to the above questions, it has always been my experience that when I release control (and dive into the abyss of unknown outcomes), the results are always better than anything I could have planned. As I rewatched a Ted Talk from a few years ago (I’ll post it at the end of the blog), I wondered how I consistently try to create a student-centered classroom.