As a teacher, I spend a lot of time in a school building. However, last week I spent time as not only a teacher, but as an author as well. To say that last week filled my cup is an understatement. I had the opportunity to read The Kindness Machine to each grade level, kindergarten – fifth grade. I read in cozy classrooms and in our gymnasium. Each reading was slightly different based on the age group and the questions asked.
I was most nervous for the fifth grade presentation. I started by simply saying that I was aware that they are almost sixth graders. I was aware that I wrote a picture book. But then I asked them if they can still learn from picture books. They said yes. I asked if adults can learn from picture books. They said yes…and it seemed genuine. I asked them to keep an open mind with the story, play along when I asked them to participate and that we would talk about how this messaged applied to them at the end. After reading I brought up the fact that they will be headed to junior high school in the fall. They have the choice to decide each morning whether they are going to be kind or not. In the end, I told them I was nervous to present to them and they giggled. I told them that it meant a lot to me that they were such a respectful audience who participated when asked. I believe when we are honest with kids and they see us showing real emotions, that is when the magic happens.
The discussions and comments from students really lit a fire in me. I felt so much joy and felt so inspired to continue writing. The best comment came from a fourth grader who was a former student. “Mrs. Dankert, this is more of a comment than a question, but I just want to say that I am really proud of. I remember you had a poster that said when you grew up you wanted to be an author and you did it!” I struggled to keep it together during this moment as I was stunned she remembered that poster that I displayed three years ago during her first week of second grade. This comment led me into a natural discussion about setting goals and working hard to accomplish big dreams. The number of students who told me they were going to be an author when they grew up hit me right in the heart.
I am extremely grateful to our incredible parent club who purchased a copy of the book for each family at our school. Knowing that each family has their own copy to read, enjoy and share is an incredible feeling. My goal is to start or continue the kindness conversation in homes and schools around the world.
I am very grateful to my coworkers who helped make this event possible. Watching the machine and our theme days come to life was so much fun. Shout out to Lisa, Jamie, Allison, Kim G., Andrea, Kim M., Susan, Jonathan, Julie, Shelly, and Hanin. Thank you to my principal for purchasing books for each classroom. Thank you to our entire staff for decorating your classroom doors with positivity and allowing me to cut into your schedule for the author visit. Check out this instagram reel documenting the week.
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