We were actually having a great day, engaging in some fun, seasonal STEM (more to come on that, but this is far more important now), but my students were SO DISTRACTED. NOT by the holidays or winter break (okay, maybe a little), but rather about the incredible story that hit the news yesterday about William (left) from our middle school. I know William's twin brother, Eamon, and both are involved in our district STEP program....and adored by all.
William is a 14-year-old who LOVES basketball, and is the manager of the middle school team. He does such a great job, works diligently, and makes everyone happy around him. WATCH & READ the news brief below to see the incredible story about William's "shot heard around the world" (which has gone pretty darn viral), and try not to tear up. I dare you.
Did THAT get your attention? Keep reading.
Finally, instead of trying to get students "back on task." I just gave in and listened. I needed to. This was the type of moment that we sometimes miss...amongst mandates, and testing, and stress, and meetings. This was the type of moment that reminds me of how ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL even our most challenging students are. This is the type of moment that tugs at your heart. This is the type of moment that reminds me why I'm an EDUCATOR.
I LOVE the song Renegades, but had never seen the video. From this student comment, I previewed the video, and proceeded to bawl my eyes out. NOT because I was sad or sorry for the subjects of the video, but because it/they were INCREDIBLE. INSPIRING. MOVING. IMPORTANT. Watch the video.
Not only did my class make those personal connections, but they also linked it to our current study of the Great Depression and the incredible guts, sacrifice, and determination it took to survive the 15 year economic and environmental epidemic that plagued our country. YOU CANNOT WRITE THIS STUFF. You know why? BECAUSE IT IS REAL & IT IS IN THE MOMENT.
Why am I writing this?
There is SO MUCH NEGATIVITY constantly engulfing us about teaching, our education system, Common Core Standards, our students, this generation of children, families, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam. It's slapping us in the face from all directions, the news, parents and community.....and from fellow educators. Is some of it true and accurate? YES. Is teaching extremely tough? ABSOLUTELY. Do we need things to change in our education system for the better? ALWAYS.....but NONE of that is really why we teach, and we have to OUTSHINE the darkness that we face with the BRIGHT LIGHTS that we often ignore, don't stop to listen to, or that simply get choked out by those hazy clouds.
This story of William, his coaches, his advisor, his teammates, his family, the basketball fans, Elm Place Middle school...it's MAGIC. It's GOOD. It's REAL. IT MATTERS. The story of my students being so enthused by his story that they couldn't stop thinking and talking about it, they made a connection to a popular song, and they left NOT feeling sorry for anyone, but ADMIRING them and self-reflecting, is the most important lesson I could ever hope for them to learn...and they didn't learn it from ME, or a BOOK, or a MANDATE. It came from WITHIN.
-PASS IT ON-
All hail the underdogs
All hail the new kids
All hail the outlaws
Spielberg's and Kubrick's
It's our time to make a move
It's our time to make amends
It's our time to break the rules