First, something mindless and fun:
We came across this gem as we were investigating Hulu for the first time. It’s part of the Big Block SingSong series, a 15 minute clip of silly songs. This was the first one that we watched, and now, at our house, a “two banana day” is a common phrase which means, “Wow, it was a tough day!” I showed this to my students today simply because, they’ve been tired and ornery, and this made some of them smile. That’s all I wanted.
Then I showed this from Eric Taylor:
This video hit me because I’ve been thinking about my 8th grade class a lot these last few days. My daughter came home last week telling me that some of my students had been sending Snapchats to the high school, asking people to buy booze for them.
So, after watching this video, I told my 8th graders just that: that I knew some of them were all ready actively approaching high school students, trying to gain favor with them by drinking. So I threw out some “I am” statements for those people:
“I am destroying my body.” “I am bending to peer pressure.”
“I am dragging my friends down a dangerous path with me.”
“I am willing to break the law to look cool.”
“I am promiscuous, because I make bad choices when I drink.”
So what we did next, had the students write their own “I am” statements. I wanted the students to think about how they’d describe themselves through these statements. The results were heart warming and terribly painful all at the same time. A few examples:
“I am worthless.” “I am a strong young woman.” “I am a brother/sister/cousin.”
“I am a believer.” “I am misunderstood.” “I am alone.”
“I am a friend.” “I am hurt.” “I am a game-changer.”
“I am a survivor.” “I am broken.” “I am more than I seem.”
I was struck both by the power of some of these statements, and hurt of others.
So, we finally did the “rotate around the room, leaving a positive message for each person” activity. I wanted to do this last week, but the schedule was blown up because of weather. For many of our students, they cry out for help, for attention, to be noticed, and to matter. What I wanted them to see, they are noticed. The ones who had the most painful “I am” statement, had some of the most positive comments left (” Your smile lights up a room.” “You have the ability to bring out the best in people.” “People are drawn your positive attitude.”)
I wanted my students to see two things:
- It’s ok to be a bit of a dork. I love pulling videos like the first one in, just to show my dorky side. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate that I’m a nerd, and now, I embrace my Harry Potter loving, Star Wars quoting, Minecraft creating inner geek, and I want those students who are similar that is ok to like this stuff. I want my “cool kids” to know it’s ok to laugh at dorky stuff, that I won’t judge them and work to create that safe place for them be silly.
- That they may not enjoy who they are, but others do. The positive things were written because other people see them in that light and that they do matter.
I don’t know, sometimes, it seems like an exercise in futility, but if I can help that one student through a tough spot because of something I say or do, I’ll continue to push that message. I wanted students to look at their classmates and see the things they sometime miss in day to day life. Each one of carries that ability to make or break the day for a classmate. Smile, eye contact, or the simple nod let that other person know, “I noticed you”, and that is so important. But it’s also just as important when we DON’T notice someone. How powerful is getting ignored, feeling like you are invisible. I’m trying to help them see that the investment in a small gesture of kindness can reap such huge rewards.
All in all, I think this activity was a good one, especially with the thoughts of the shooting in Florida fresh in their minds. I wanted them to think about themselves, their friends, and how what they do makes an impact. I want them to know they matter, but more importantly, that they matter to others as well.
In the end, being noticed makes us human and helps us to see the good in all around us.
So, tomorrow, notice someone. Give them a smile, a “Good Morning”, and make their day a little more special.
I know I will! 🙂