It’s been a busy few months since I’ve returned home.
I’ve started a new job teaching Spanish and instructional coaching at a new school, finished my Summative Report and Inquiry Project (a requirement for all Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Awardees), re-joined my Climate Justice Team colleagues to help strategize about how to teach our students to be climate change activists, re-wrote component 3 of my National Boards submission (because I found out in December that I didn’t pass by two points, smh!), re-joined my district’s world language leadership team to align curriculum district-wide . . . and started writing a novel?????
That last bit has five questions marks because a) I like odd numbers and b) I want to express my trepidation at taking on such a daunting task. I love writing. I love telling stories. My 7 year-old-self once aspired to be a writer, and my 12 year-old-self used to jam up the phone line for hours on end as she and her friend Amanda wrote what might have been an epic romance novel if we had not spent all our time debating the names of our characters. Committing myself to the project of writing about my Afro-Mexican’s friends’ stories, in a novel, for Spanish language learners, and proclaiming my commitment ON THE INTERNET no less . . . that makes me nervous.
I might fail.
I might not. I might write something useful, maybe even beautiful.
There’s a part of me that wants to not blog anything until I’ve written the book, found a publisher and have a fancy cover that I can snap a photo of for the blog post. But there’s another part of me that wants to document this process because if I get it right, then maybe other language teachers who want to write books can use it as a guide. And if I get it wrong, then it can still be a guide, just more of a “All the Things Not to Do" type of guide. Either way!
What’s clear to me is that writing a mini-novel a la TPRS mini-novels, is the best way to get this information in my novice-level students’ hands. I teach Esperanza by Carol Gaab every year, and my students learn so much about Guatemalan history and culture. We talk about immigration and this year I’m teaching them about the meaning behind the symbols stitched into indigenous clothing that I bought while in Guatemala. My dear friend Rita just published her first novel, Libertad, about her friend Dionisio’s journey from Cuba to the US. Rita told me that when she wrote her novel, she wrote a chapter, gave it to her students, they gave her feedback, and then she’d write another chapter. So . . . read on to the next blog post to see how I followed that lead.