I'm sporting a new hairdo today. It's fluorescent blue over my normal golden highlights. To be totally honest, I'm at the age where women don't dye their hair fluorescent colors, or wear blue wigs, unless they're named Katy Perry. I'm not trying to be youthful, or outrageous, or pretend I can sing like Katy. I was forced into turning my hair blue.
|What do you mean, I don't look like Katy Perry?|
Last August, I informed my students we would all be reading many, many books in fifth grade. I gave them the forty book goal, and several of them slapped their hands on their foreheads. A few doubled over in pain and turned ashen and pale. The anguish in their body language was no worse than if I'd stabbed each of them with a hypodermic needle. A horse sized hypodermic needle.
But by the end of October, everyone was getting into the groove of reading, and many students were on fire. By the end of December, a couple of students had already met their forty book goal. They asked, "So what happens when we pass our goal?"
Obviously, I didn't want them to stop reading just because they'd met the mark early. So I did what all teachers do in that kind of situation. I made something up.
"There might be some reward in it for you."
"I haven't decided yet."
"Didn't you dye your hair blue one year when a kid in your class read a bunch of books?" One particularly attentive student asked the question I hoped no one would bring up. Her words hung over our desks, swirling in the air like a swarm of blue flies.
I cleared my throat. "Ahem." I slurped a drink of water. Stalled for time.
"Why yes, I did dye my hair blue. But it was for reaching an incredibly high goal. I'm certain no one in this class will be able to meet it."
"How many books do we have to read to get you to dye your hair blue?" For the first time this year, all eyes in the class were on me, and all ears were listening attentively.
I picked a number that seemed too high for even the most avid reader to attain. "One hundred books."
A whoosh went round the room. Everyone sucked in their breath except for the attentive girl who remembered my blue hair from three years ago. She stood up.
"I'll do it." Now all eyes turned to her. She squared her shoulders and stood up straighter. "I can do it. I'll just read a little bit longer each night. I can finish sixty more books by June."
As the year continued, many more students made it to the forty book mark. June 6 came around, and I felt secure in the sense that my student wouldn't make it to one hundred books. After all, on Monday she had only read ninety-seven. But on June 7, she came to school proudly brandishing Book #100 over her head.
"I finished! I got up this morning at 5 a.m. and finished the book!" She smiled her most angelic smile. "Now will you dye your hair blue for me?"
That kind of dedication and fortitude, not to mention love of reading, has to be rewarded. So that, my friends, is why I'll be wearing fluorescent blue streaks in my hair. Who knows? I may decide I like the look and keep it for a while. It worked for Katy Perry. It worked for me. It got my students to read well over 1,000 books this year. That's my personal success.
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