Thursday, May 25, 2017

To the class of 2021: Thank you for being my miracles in the mundane.

When I went back to school at the age of 37 to get my teaching license, I thought that maybe since teaching was my third career, I would find that it fulfilled that professional space in my soul that had been lacking. And while there have been definite seasons of this over the last 9 years, I have never felt like I do this year.

This year has been that “finding my stride” year where the energy I put into this overwhelming job has been worth it. Totally worth it.  The class of 2021 is the class that will absolutely change the world. Some of the distinguishing features of this class is that they are kind, funny, smart, loyal, curious, driven, and I am going to really miss them!
{Well, most of them are these things... I do teach 8th grade, so, I mean, I’m not delusional that ALL the kids are like this!}

They have sparked a love for teaching in me that I hope lasts for a long time. If you have read any of my past end of the school year posts, you know this isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s been the opposite. I have been dragging myself to the end of the year finish line and I've been a bit worse for the wear. This year I am still craving the rejuvenation of summer, but my soul seems more at peace and I am not looking for the next thing. I am relishing my place in this profession and giving it my all.

Yes, you read that right. :)

The tangible evidence of this being a fantastic year with fantastic kids showed up at the end of a "book club" unit I put together. The kids were in groups of four either reading I Am Malala or I Will Always Write Back. I wanted them to read a nonfiction book that challenged their world view. These books fit the bill perfectly.  

Their discussions, responses to reading, and general "ah-ha" moments were great, but when they presented their cumulative projects; I was BLOWN AWAY! I can't even begin to tell you how incredible their synthesis of these books was. I was able to take pictures of many of them, but several people did electronic projects that were just as insightful and thorough as what you see here.

Their presentations were creative and well thought out. For example in the I Will Always Write Back book, one connecting point between Caitlin and Martin was The Spice Girls. So, one group played “Wannabe” as they started their presentation. It was amazing. {BTW, the video for that is quite inappropriate for school--luckily they didn’t want to show it! Ha!}

Two groups organized a shoe drive and one group organized a school supply drive to help impoverished people in Africa. They made posters, made announcements in classes and gathered a ton of shoes and supplies!  

One group took on a “kindness campaign” where they left signs like this across the school:
This was their poster explaining the cause and effect of kindness:
I mean, wow. Just wow.  It was so inspiring to see them take action like this. They wanted to do something tangible, and they did!
I continued to be in awe when I read their one page papers reflecting on what they learned about themselves and the world from reading their book. I captured a few of these below. As you read them, feel confident that our future is in good hands with the class of 2021!

The book I Will Always Write Back has changed my life. Its moral speaks louder than any other story that I have ever read. One American girl changed a life and once saved a life in a miraculous friendship with a Zimbabwean boy. This has changed me into a more aware person, because through Caitlin’s and Martin’s story, I now know that I can change a life. Save a life, and that one small act of kindness will make a huge difference.

I never would have guessed how the smallest of actions or the simplest of wants could make a huge impact on the world. After finishing the astonishing book, I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, I believe the biggest lesson was that you must be determined to complete a journey in order to accomplish it.

I learned that we are all different and we can learn from each other’s differences. We can benefit from generosity whether we are receiving its direct benefits or awaiting to see its results.

I never predicted I would learn something about myself. I always knew I had a love for reading, but I had no idea how deeply I could feel for characters until I read that book.

The most important takeaway from this book was that you should stay true to you heart, and if you don’t stop trying, then the world will reward you in return. If you never give up, like Malala, then you will be rewarded.

Throughout the story, I Will Always Write Back I have learned many life lessons from Caitlin and Martin. They have taught me to never take my life for granted, that every penny counts, and that one small act of kindness can change someone’s life.

What I  learned  from reading I Am Malala is that if  you don’t stand up for what you believe in, the world will never change. That is bad. The world always needs to change, it will never be perfect, but we need to stand up for what’s right.  

You have to stand up for what you believe in, and to speak up for others who can’t or are too afraid to.

I think that before reading this book, many members of my group, including myself, were ignorant to what we had and took everything for granted.
I learned that I take what I eat, school, and what I wear for granted. Some people don't have the luxury of getting to choose what they wear, or to eat good food, or to even go to school. I used to take my education for granted, not thinking it was really that big of a thing, until now, because now I know that some people don't have that privilege.

As l read the book I Will Always Write Back I not only learned more about the world, but I also learned about myself. Before this book I knew I was very fortunate and I knew that children in other countries didn't have the life or opportunities I have. But not until I read the book did it seem real.

Sunshine, wind, threatening storm clouds and a seed of hope, this is I Am Malala. In this autobiography by Malala Yousafzai, I learned to be thankful for my life. My schooling. My food. My rights. In this book I learned that life is hard; many people have it worse than others. “Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born” (page 192). I know now that hope and light can, has, and will shine in the darkest places.

{This last one is a bit over the top, but in my world, in the BEST possible way!}

Aren’t these excerpts amazing!!! I am so proud of these kids!!!!

I am so very grateful about how these kids showed me consistent Light and Hope this year.
I feel energized to jump into year 10. {10????!!!!!! Whoa.}

But first, summer.
CABIN! I am coming for you!

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing and are making a HUGE difference in the lives of your students. You are their miracle!