“A Birthday is just another day where you go to work and people give you love.”
My birthday was this week. Honestly, I am not much of a birthday guy. I typically never share this news with anyone because for the past thirty versions or so I simply pay them no attention. My philosophy on birthdays (beyond a certain age) aligns with that of one of my colleagues, Dale Fisher, who when wished “Happy Birthday” typically responds with: “What did I accomplish? I lived another year? Big deal.” I tend to agree that the single day in the year is not much of a big deal at all; instead, it is the other 364 days leading up to it--when looked at collectively--that can actually amount to a pretty big deal when one realizes all that is accomplished in that time span. John Wooden, perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever, was fond of saying that little things make big things happen. In a way, "little" days make "big" ones happen, too.
I was reminded of my thoughts on this topic in our school district this week because we had a somewhat analogous event. It was a "big" event, actually: the governor of our state visited one of our schools! This is really a neat thing and one small indication of the outstanding things that are happening across our entire district. Having said that, I actually have mixed feelings because it struck me that we were celebrating a “birthday-like” event when each and every day amazing things are happening in all classrooms--amazing things that are honestly even more important than a visit by our governor.
So when we convened our district's Curriculum Council (made up of teachers, coaches, and administrators from across the district) later in the week, I asked council members as they entered (without telling them why I was asking) to quickly list something good that happened in their classroom or school this week. I received about twenty answers which were all inspiring. In the interest of brevity, I am sharing just six herein:
- We are promoting an app called 'Lensoo' which is an interactive whiteboard. Students are using the Nexus Tablets to solve problems and explain their thinking, create presentations, etc. Our students are engaged, our teachers can listen to what the students have to say to locate sound logic or errors in thinking, and we are moving outside of the Chromebooks, which are limiting when it comes to creating.
- I was introducing the iPad app, Inspiration to a 4th grade class, and we ran into a glitch that I couldn't solve. One of our special needs students figured out the problem, and was able to lead the whole class in the steps to fix the glitch. It just so happened he was also being observed for his classroom behavior. He was so proud of himself and he became our class "expert.”
- Night ZooKeeper. This is a website that encourages writing for students. During the month of March, there was an international competition for students that wrote the most words! Two second grade classrooms were in the Top 40 internationally. Not only have they become better writers, they WANT to write on this website whenever they can!
- I love how using our Chromebooks is as second-nature as using a pencil, paper, and books! When students were starting a partnered biography on an inventor, the kids were able to use our shared document, copy part of it to their own document, and share it with their partners and me. It only took about two seconds with minimal instruction! They have come SO far!!! It's really cool how it's just part of what we do!
- Our music students performed this week! 8th grade music theatre scenes with singing, choreography, acting, stage blocking. 7th grade performances with written scores of completely original student-created music. 6th grade arrangements of pop, folk, or cultural tunes, with instruments, choreography, and background presentations. EVERYone participates, creates, works together, and performs for their classmates, and EVERYone articulates their learning via online personal reflection.
And, last, but not least:
- 6th grade kids were hugging each other as they returned back from Spring Break!
I sincerely appreciated and enjoyed the visit from our Governor this week. It was truly an important event for our school community. In addition to the governor, we had a host of other community leaders stop by to observe this wonderful event. Yet, the events listed above, which also occurred this week, are even more important to me--and to our kids.
Birthdays--and “Birthday-like” events are fun and worth recognizing. Yet, the daily joys that occur during the other 179 days of teaching and learning in are every bit--if not more--impressive and worthy of recognition. Maybe our community leaders should visit our schools on these "little" days, too!
Celebrating every day and every learning event is important for our students...and doing so is another way we Teach with Passion!