School can be so exciting, especially early in the year. The fall and winter holidays continue to liven up the classroom.
But winter can get rather old after the charm of snowflakes wears off. The quiet of winter can make a classroom almost sleepy.
When I noticed the doldrums trying to creep into my classroom one year, I just had to do something!
On the weekend I caught sight of a bright purplish teddy bear in the mall. It seemed to call my name as it was so unusual.
I had recently read several pieces by Leo Buscaglia and even was honored to hear him speak. He told a story of drawing a tree in school which looked like one at home. But the teacher insisted it wasn’t a tree. He was instructed to draw it a certain way like the others, with a rectangle trunk, a green circle at the top, and little red apples. But that didn’t ring true to his actual experiences!
This inspirational speaker knew that kids’ ideas need to be heard. His comments resonated with the huge crowd of educators in the audience.
His ideas struck home with me and I soon decided my weekend purchase was going to be dubbed The Magenta Man. I knew then he’d be the Classroom Superhero, and the kids would have someone in their corner at school. (I knew Leo Buscalgia would approve, as he never used plain words like purple when more scintillating words like magenta were available.)
If you wonder why I used the male gender, I’m afflicted with a love of alliteration! The magenta teddy bear was also male in his clothes, so it was a natural. (Nothing against us females. Someone should make up a classroom superhero who is female!)
Magenta Man would sit on a special and rather private nook in a corner of my classroom. The students could visit him and write him questions or comments. There was only one chair there since it was a time for thoughtful reflection and writing one’s ideas.
This superhero only had time on the weekend to respond, and he answered each and every note the kids wrote, large or small. He was characterized as shy but very wise. He only came to life when the building was completely empty.
Here are two of Magenta Man’s friends. No one could ever take a picture of the classroom superhero since he only moved around when no one was in the school. . .
Yes, the students probably knew it was a classroom myth. But the love of magical thinking is music to the ears of many children. Several of them became avid writers under his influence.
It was amazing how seriously the children took their interactions with Magenta Man. They poured out their hearts in their writing. Sometimes they told him funny stories. He liked it when they labeled them Fiction or Non-Fiction:-)
These experiences energized the kids’ writing and was personally uplifting while encouraging development of communication skills for both academic and personal uses.
The Magenta Man always wrote in a purplish magic marker. I had to do a bit of shopping to locate a number of identical magenta-type writing instruments.
Mondays always brought kids eager to return to school for the answers from their favorite superhero pen pal. His answers were never judgmental, and he always let them know he was honored to be allowed to read the child’s ideas. Sometimes he gave bits of advice but they were always delivered with clear respect for the reader.
Magenta Man provided many growth experiences for the students in writing and personal responsibility. He reminded us teachers of the importance of a little magic on those days when school could be in danger of being boring.
Most of all, Magenta Man gave the students individual attention, made them feel listened to, and encouraged them to see their everyday lives as important. He showed the courage to be different and empowered children to be themselves. That superhero knew what Buscaglia knew, that it wasn’t just about subjects, it was about living.
One lad said it best, “Magenta Man, he’s da man!”
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use in print or online.