Friday, June 9, 2017

Year 7: Week 37 – A Year Shaped By One Day

This is the year where I stopped waiting, and I stopped hesitating.

Units that I had been waiting for years to do, I pushed my doubts aside and just did. There was a dance to “Hoe-Down” by Aaron Copeland, which I taught and got up on stage and led my 3rd graders through on stage. Also there was the dulcimer project in which, those same 3rd graders made dulcimers from a kit in art and shop class. I’ve never taken a dulcimer lesson in my life and it took three tries before I figured out how to teach these kids how to hold a pick, but I figured it out and we had a great time.

Those 3rd grade ideas were things that I need a slight push to do, but I felt I could handle. There was a lot of learning that I had to do to get both of these things going, but I had been planning to do both of these things from the summer before.

Then there were these other projects. These were nuggets of ideas. These were ideas that I felt more comfortable waiting to take on because they needed development, and I knew there was only so much new stuff I could handle in a year.

One single event changed all of my thinking that pushed these ideas into reality, which transformed my school year it to one that should have been relatively simple to manage into one of the my most challenges years of teaching. It was a time when feeling overwhelmed and uncertain of outcomes became a norm.

After Tuesday, November 9th, the day after that guy was elected President, I committed to getting to work.

That night began months of planning, coordinating and music arranging. I pulled members from our entire school community to put together a Presidents’ Day assembly reading of Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama. I created a unit examining the underrepresentation of women in music leading up to a visit from some amazing women musicians for my 5th graders. There was the performance of My Shot thatI coordinated and conducted that featured more than two hundred middle school and high school students. I also collaborated with the choir teacher and the 6th grade history teacher to create a brand new 6th grade presentation that integrated our curriculums.

All of these projects, all of this work was a direct response to the election. These projects were about embracing diversity, creating equity and being inclusive. It was about citizenship, community, identity, and making our country more just, honest and fair.

The election was a harsh reminder that we have so much work to do as educators. It was a reminder that we can’t be complacent and that we can’t wait. We need to educate our students to be citizens right now. While this extra work was hard and less sleep was had, I never questioned the worth of what I was doing. In thinking about my students and what they needed, I also thought about my own son, Ollie.

I refuse to leave this world in a worse place than it is right now for my son. It has become clear to me that I can actually do something as a teacher to make sure that I don’t let my son down.

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