Saturday, March 14, 2015

How do you solve a problem like....

First of all, it should be noted that the benchmark for dramatic excellence was so far passed last evening that I'm not sure I could actually articulate what that original benchmark was.  I cried like a baby with pride.  (And I was only responsible for the PR!  I can't even imagine the sense of achievement that the cast and crew, or their amazing director, Audra Brackbill, feels!)  If you're local -- head to Donegal tonight or Sunday to see the show.

  How do you solve a problem like....

Today is a day where I rest a bit...  The family is off at the Flyers/Red Wings game.  I've spent the morning catching up on the usual weekend chores, and thinking about what causes people to collectively come together for excellence.  Certainly last night's performance could be deemed a big project, under the guise of Project Based Learning.  Each and every member of the cast and crew learned something new, that helped them hone a skill, or explore a new skill, that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  Heck, even the parents, teachers, director, and everyone associated with the production has a takeaway of some sort.

So why does the same level of success not happen in classrooms everywhere?  How do we engage students at that level?  

Sue Grant, aka Corndog, has a wonderful blog.  Her commentary on A Space to Strive For, is eloquent an poignant.   Allowing students a reason for self-efficacy that they can embrace certainly is at the foundation of a nurturing classroom.  And my good friend, Seth, aka Khembonder, waxed poetic on the reasons why we need to teach kids who don't think they need to know what we're teaching -- if for no other experience than learning about adversity and frustration in the Chemistry classroom before being faced with frustrations and disappointments that are also connected to loved ones and heartache.

"In class lately I have started to combat the "I don't know" answer with the following, "I asked you what you think, not what you know." "I don't know" goes hand in hand with "Just google it." It is an attempt to not think or engage the material. An attempt to be basic. I am passionate that I just cannot settle for that level of achievement from anyone. It may look different for all kids, but I will try to get more than their basic. Whether they give it to me or not that remains to be seen. "

I wish I could live on the shelf in Seth's room, observing, for one period a day.  I'm not asking a lot. 

It takes effort for anyone to shift their mind from watching a movie, to reading a book, to getting up on stage and living, or rather bringing life, to the characters on stage.  The same rationalization and level of student engagement could easily be diagrammed to reflect the potential passion of students as they interact on a small stage in a classroom, while preparing themselves to star in that big production, aka ADULTHOOD.

Go forth.  Find a high school production near you, and transport yourself back to being 16, or ahead to being 76.  Imagine the journey, and celebrate every step.