Last Thursday, I heard Oprah speak at Rogers Place. The topic: The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose echoing the title of her new book.
There’s no denying that Oprah is intelligent, funny, and inspiring. She is passionate about her own authentic purpose and encourages others to discover their own. How?
She talks about listening to our whispers: those inner thoughts revealing what is right for us in our lives. It doesn’t matter our circumstances, our previous experiences, our age, or status in life, we all have choices to make and whispers to guide us.
Many of her words resonated with me. I have chosen a few to share today: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” “You are responsible for your life.” “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” “You become what you believe.”
Oprah strives to empower others. Isn’t that our role as teachers, too?
I love theatre. It follows then that I enjoy watching the Tony Awards to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest Broadway shows. Last Sunday, Andre De Shields (who won Best Performance for a Leading Actor for his work in Hadestown) gave the following advice during his acceptance speech:
“1. Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. 2. Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be. 3. The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next so keep climbing.”
His words got me thinking: Isn’t this wonderful advice for our students? A wonderful example for our children?
I don’t have my own classroom these days, but if I did, I think I would find a way to post these three nuggets of wisdom. To discuss the profound meaning in each. To use each of them as inspiration for writing and reflection.
Yes, we have the important role of teaching science and social studies, math and language arts, physical education and the fine arts. But we also have an opportunity for so much more.
Which nuggets of wisdom do you choose to instill in your students?
Recently, I saw this quote on Facebook: “Nine times out of 10, the story behind the misbehavior won’t make you angry, it will break your heart.” Annette Breaux
As an administrator, an expected part of the job is dealing with discipline issues as they arise. When I was in that role, I saw it as my job to dig a little, to discover the why behind the behaviour. And as the quote above indicates, very often, the why is heartbreaking.
For many of these same students, the end of the school year brings with it anxiety. Some dread two months at home. For some, school is safety and stability.
As the school year comes to a close, consider what you might equip these students with to help them through the summer: a few extra words of encouragement, a good book or two, or even a journal (with a reassuring note and quote within).
One of my favourite quotes to share with students: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A. A. Milne
These gestures might not seem significant, but we just don’t know the impact they may have…
Last week my mom and I exchanged our current manuscripts. The intent? To garner feedback which will ultimately improve our work. When we allow someone to read our work in progress, their fresh eyes notice different things and come to the writing with a different perspective.
To emulate this experience in my classroom, I establish writing groups with my students. What are they? Very simply, small groups of students (ideally four per group) who share their writing and provide feedback to each other. Students as young as grade one learn to comment on the craft of their fellow writers!
Although this concept of sharing effective feedback is difficult for students at first, once they learn how to provide (and receive) feedback, the literate conversations that occur can be somewhat surprising to teachers who have not witnessed them before.
How do we teach our students to give feedback? The mini-lessons we teach on specific skills become the basis for the conversations within the writing groups. It doesn’t matter if the mini-lesson is on word choice, dialogue, or a particular plot pattern, whatever it is, we teach our students to notice and comment on this skill or strategy within the writing.
Still skeptical? Watch this video of Austin’s Butterfly to witness the power of student feedback. The video may be about a scientific drawing, but the same premise applies!