I’ve been doomy and gloomy as of late, and have had a hard time getting out of this funk. I know I’ve said that much of this was worked through in June, but when the climate is as it is right now, it’s all around me.
I thought we’d have a chance to change that a bit within my own classroom. We’ve really worked on the “you matter” mantra, talking about it, writing about it, saying it to each other, just trying to instill in each other that yes, you do matter to each person here. Now, I really wanted to add that to the idea that we all have a voice, it’s just how we choose to use it. Through our blogs, my students have suddenly realized that their words carry meaning, and rightfully so.
My plan was to allow the class a choice:
– continue with past practice of a gift exchange within the room, $4.00 maximum, and you bring a gift for a boy or girl and we share them at our Christmas Party. It usually involved little trinkets that they pretty much forget about within a month of the party.
– pool that money, and matter to someone outside our classroom, outside our community. I’d gotten a flyer on the Heifer Project, and thought this would be a great way to give our little group of 5th graders a voice in helping in the world. With our class, we could easily have pooled money to purchase animals or shares of animals to help with other families creating a self-sufficient life.
So, we put it to a vote, and to my shock, the gift exchange won. I went home that night disappointed that for all our activities, we still weren’t to that place where we could see beyond our classroom. I was wrong. The next day, I had small group of students, who were as disappointed as I was, so they simply took the bull by the horns, talked with each other, and starting to gather their own money. Within three days (and the help of one of their mothers) they had close to $140 raised, enough to purchase shares of a number of animals, along with purchasing a flock of chickens and geese! What? A small group of people, with the right motivation, are creating a voice for themselves? That sounds like what the “you matter” mantra is all about!
Needless to say, I’m incredibly proud of these students. They given me hope that someday, they’ll be ready to embrace that idea that they can change the world, that their voice can be heard, and that they can do this as students in a small Iowa school. It’s exciting to see them excited about this and my hope is that their excitement is contagious!