Friday, August 20, 2010

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Today was an emotional day... in a fantastic way.

I saw
Big River again last night. I knew some of the cast was going to be visiting my classroom today, so I watched it through that particular lens. It is a beautiful show about so many things. But last night, what really stood out for me were the lessons on friendship and being nonjudgemental. The line that struck me the hardest was when Jim says, "...en trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed." It made me think of how kids (and we adults too) make jokes at the expense of others. I have such a hard time getting my kids to be kind to one another. It's a constant battle. I love watching Huck's transformation in the show. You can see him start to listen to his heart. He finally realizes that doing the right thing for another human being is what matters... not the color of that human's skin. In a middle school, it's not the clothes they wear or where they live or if they love school or if they're awkward and don't fit in. None of that matters. Such hard lessons for adolescents. Such hard lessons for people of any age.

4 of the cast members came to talk. I thought it went great. I was proud to have them in my classroom. They were all wonderful, but the honest truth is that the majority of kids in Fairfield, Iowa, don't have multicultural role models. For that reason, I was especially glad to have Evan in my room today. I'm proud to call him friend. I'm proud of his performance and his show too. Please don't miss Big River if you're around Fairfield this weekend. You'll laugh, and you'll cry. Totally worth every cent.

I also tried a new activity with my language arts classes today. I gave them three cards. One one, they wrote "I want." The others said "I need" and "I hope." On the other sides of the cards, they filled in each statement. They just put their initials on the side that won't show, so the answers will be anonymous when I post them on the bulletin board to share. I was so touched by their responses. They were so honest. They really wrote their hearts, in all their 7th grade glory. Some of the ones that stood out for me (for all kinds of reasons... funny, touching, so "7th grade," sincere) were:

"I hope my teachers will like me."

"I need a way to majicaly get better at spelling."

"I need school supplies."

"I hope this year isn't as bad as everyone says it is."

"I want the Presidential Education Award."

"I need to be nice. Even when it's hard."

"I hope I get another friend."

"I want my last name pronounced right."

"I want to have better grades."

"I want two chocolate milks for lunch."

"I hope I pass this class."

"I need some classes to let me be creative and myself, and some classes to keep me in reality."

"I want a good teacher."

"I need an iPhone."

"I hope I do good in sports this year so I can get my confidence up."

"I hope that 7th grade will be OK."

"I need A NEW CELL PHONE!!! And to read more......?"

"I want a eating place with chicken lips this year."

"I want to meet new people, and make more friends."

"I need good teachers to help me learn."

I'll do my best, kids. Thanks for your honesty and heart. I can tell that you have so much to teach me. I know it's going to be a great year... especially if my heart stays as full and happy as it is today. :)

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