In this #coachbetter episode, we have a very special guest, Firoozeh Dumas, author of two New York Times Bestsellers that you may have in your classroom or school right now, including “Funny in Farsi”! Kim was honored to be a keynote speaker with Firoozeh for the ECIS Leadership conference (Educational Collaborative for International Schools) this past spring, and because of that connection they started chatting about the ways that we can bring creativity and joy into the classroom through literature. In this episode, Firoozeh shares the ways that educators can use humor in literature to provoke conversation, engagement & enthusiasm about writing and reading. For educators who are ready to embrace their own creativity & to inspire creativity in their students, this episode provides lots of ideas and strategies to bring to your classroom this year!
Bonus! Watch the Spotlight Version on YouTube!
Please share a little bit about how you are currently working with schools
Visiting schools for 17 years. My books are used by the entire school, the whole school will read the book. Draw what’s in your pantry. After my books, starts conversations in the classroom, as soon as the stories are read, they want to share their own story. Whenever a kid shares a story, it’s very affirming, it shows their story matters. A short book makes people feel like I could do this.
What are some of the ways that your books are different than others that may be on a similar topic (I’m leading towards the joy vs misery here)
I’m a humorist, books are laugh-out-loud funny. Do books have to be depressing to be on class reading lists?
How can coaches or educators interested in bringing a DEIJ lens to their work use your books and resources to start conversations at a professional level?
There’s something about reading a series of vignettes about someone’s life who’s rather ordinary, that makes people realize that my life / my stories matter. I can not emphasize how magical it is when students who don’t speak in class, finally start sharing after hearing / reading one of my stories.
Needs to be balanced, we need to interact with one another. We need to feed our soul. It’s never going to give us the fulfillment that we get when interacting with other human beings. I don’t think it’s possible to have a fulfilling life without human connection.
How can teachers / coaches support aspiring creators in the school community?
Story about speaking at a middle school in NY. Activity: “Describe yourself in six words”. What’s missing in schools is the ability to just have fun. Creativity is very delicate, it’s fragile. You want to allow kids to be creative without commenting on it. No fake feedback. Showing kids that’s ok to express themselves just for fun. Create a safe space where people can take risks. How do we let kids know that creativity is something meant to be fun, there’s no wrong answer.
How can teachers / coaches embrace their inner creative?
Stop projecting what a kid can do with their creativity. The process is the goal. Just doing something is the goal. The best thing we can do as educators is to model a non-judgemental approach to be creative.
As a writer what has changed in terms of technology and innovation in the writing process over the years?
Having a computer is great, better than paper and pencil. What’s changed is the publishing process. Now there is so much free content on the internet. Make sure what you’re trying to get published isn’t available for free on the internet, no publisher will pay for that.
Style of the writing, there has to be a unique twist.
Don’t show your work to your family. If you want feedback, find people who are not related to you. It’s hard for people to be honest.
One thing you’d like to share
Being a kid is hard, anything you can do to bring joy to the classroom is very valid. Using music, humor, kids need to have fun even if it’s just for a few minutes. Finding an excuse for kids to have a moment of levity. Life is hard right now. Anything you can do to bring color and joy. Really creative people play, they always play. Don’t need to make use of every moment of time.
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