Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the awesome things

I love books. And recently I have been reading (and re-reading) a great one, "The Book of Awesome," inspired from the website
1000 awesome things. In the introduction to the book, the author talks about the "tiny little things" and bring joy to our everyday lives. He reminds us that things like finding money in your coat pocket, snow days, listening to ice crackle in your drink, or building cushion forts - can bring a smile to your face. In fact next time you have a stressful day, I encourage you to pick up this book, or go to this website. I dare you not to smile.

And as I was thumbing through this book for the third week in a row, I couldn't help but think of the parallels to education. As Neil Pasricha reminds us, in light of global warming, financial struggles, illness, famine, war and strife, somehow the cold side of our pillow or popping bubble wrap can still make us smile. So why don't we focus on these things? Instead we can so easily become riddled with stress and misery. On a daily school day it is rare that i don't overhear a conversation complaining about "the system." Class sizes are to big, school days are too long, merit pay is ridiculous, standardized testing is unfair, I don't want to change classrooms, I don't have the resources I want, why aren't my students working the way i want it to, our model for ______ isn't working, my students are unmotivated (often the word is lazy, but I don't believe that's really true) - the list goes on. Think about it. I'm sure you could add more to the never-ending complaints that teachers concoct on a day-to-day basis. So what happened to all the good stuff. The little stuff. The moments that make you smile and think that the rest of it doesn't matter. Strangely enough, the little stuff can cast such a large shadow the those big complaints aren't even visible. So I challenge you to think of the little stuff. Make a list. Here are a few of mine this week:
  • student was excited because he was the first one to class
  • shy, struggling student got a B on a math test - gave me a high-five
  • student with autism wrote me an amazing comic about Simba going to the zoo and used it to solve the pythagorean theorem. I laughed out loud because it was brilliant. (it was also 7 pages long!)
  • 5 new students joined twitter this week to follow my class account
  • 3 of them tweeted me today
  • 1 of them used twitter to get advice on how to use an equation editor
  • 1 of them used it to share a link for a cool website he thought I/the class might like

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