Saturday, September 27, 2014

Celebrate: Letting It Go

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Last weekend, instead of heading to the lake, my husband and I headed to small town a few miles from my hometown. For the first time since I was in elementary school (well, at least the first one I could get to since then) my mom's family had a family reunion. All of her living siblings and their kids showed up (well, the ones who live in state. We missed the California cousins.) .  It was amazing. It was fun. It brought me back to who I am and where I'm from.

It was the first, but it won't be the last.

The first two of four generations gathering together
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Every semester in Drama, the first assignment is "Don't Be Boring". Kids can do anything they want in class and there is only one requirement...Don't Be Boring.  They are scared, nervous, and swear this is the worst assignment ever.

But

Something happens.

At some point in the weeks following, someone always asks, "Are we going to do Don't Be Boring again? "

So we do. Usually several times throughout the semester.

Friday was one of those times

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We had such fun watching everyone perform that I don't think she realized that she was the only one they applauded. But she was. The only freshmen in a class mostly full of my contest speech kids. She stood in front of us and flat out told us that she doesn't sing well, but she loves this song. And then she pushed play and began to sing "Let it Go" from Frozen. 

And she's right. She doesn't sing well, but what she lacks in pitch, she makes up for in courage, passion and enthusiasm and belief in the song.  She stood in the center of our room and belted out it out.

Not one student laughed
or rolled their eyes
or made snide comments

And when she was finished, they applauded. Not polite claps. Not a smattering throughout the room. But LOUD applause.

I couldn't have been more proud of all of them....

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One of my senior speech kids shared a "Where I'm From" poem that she wrote for a college class. She had shared it with me throughout the writing of it. I've taught this student since she was in seventh grade and she's an amazing writer.  She took a simple template and created a heartbreakingly beautiful piece about her mother and her.

The thing about this student is, she NEVER reads her poetry out loud. EVER.  She lets other people read it. She will share the written page. She just has never read it out loud, in her voice.

Ironically, in contest speech, she's does poetry--oral interpretation of poetry. I've convinced her, I think, to use this as her contest piece this year---her senior year. So Friday was the debut of her "Where I'm From". Kids sat there for a minute, shocked that she had written this piece. Her honesty and courage in sharing it will stay with me for awhile.

We took a break and danced with another student.






So I guess this week, I'm celebrating family. The one you are born into and the one you create for yourself.

How was your week?



8 comments:

  1. Love your ending, Deb. The students become such a part of our lives, even now, I'm watching students grow into young adults whom I've seen as the youngest primary-a joy to see. Love about your freshman & the senior-special moments! Glad you were able to see that 'other' family too!

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  2. So fun to read your post. What an interesting assignment - I would be terrified just like your students! Fun to see the pic of you and your cousins.

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  3. I love that you called out both kinds of families. Your Don't be Boring reminds me of some people who have "un-boring" lists of things they want to do. It makes me want to think of some un-boring activities. ;)

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  4. Deb, I think your Don't Be Boring project is one that asks students to become risk-takers. It seems that a community of trust is developed through this assignment. Loe the fact that you push your students to move out of their comfort zone.

    The invitation to join the "Finding Fall" Gallery is at http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/09/falling-into-place-as-season-turns.html. I hope you decide to find fall this season with me.

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  5. I love the Don't Be Boring assignment! And I love reading about your classroom.

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  6. This is a celebration of family. As teachers we spend so much time at school that the kids become our kids. In your case they are with you for years. I like the Don't be Boring assignment. I wonder whether I would dare to participate.

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  7. You are creating a family with your students. One based on mutual respect and admiration. Sounds like a wonderful week with family and students.

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  8. I miss being in the school library and the fun sharing. I loved that you got to visit with family. I love reunions too. Thanks for sharing.

    Mary-andering Creatively

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