I had the wonderful pleasure this week of going on a little holiday with my wife to see P!nk in concert. The show was spectacular and like all of her songs, the lyrics are so powerful. One song, in particular, had a line that always resonates with me, “We’re not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again”. I immediately took out my phone and jotted down the lines and well that is how a blog post is born.
I would like to take a little liberty here and shift some words around, “We’re not broken just bent, we can love to learn again.” This should be the goal of all teachers when working with our students. Helping them to learn to love learning. School should not be something students resent and count down the hours to be done with. As we are approaching the end of the year students are getting more and more antsy and tired of having to keep working.
So what do we do in this situation? Today I was reading on Facebook as Donalyn Miller recounted a terrible experience hearing a teacher say to students ” I am the adult just deal with it” Students are bent to the point of breaking and we tell them “We are the adults just deal with it”. We tell students that are strong readers that they have to use Lexia nightly because if all the students use it the school can get a grant. We still push AR, we have students do book reports, we give them millions of assessments, week after week and then we ask why they are acting out.
We need to remember that we are the adults but we need to deal with it. We need to adjust to help students in a time that anxiety is growing, where some fear the loss of stability and routine that summer brings as it replaces the school. We need to start helping our students see the joy of reading to read, the beauty of a good book, in the sun, with some lemonade. The wind slightly pushing those pages encouraging you to turn to the next one. We are not going to get those kinds of readers from the tests on a computer. We are not going to get those readers by making them bend to the I am the adult so deal with it mentality. We are going to get them there by giving them hope, by showing them that learning can be fun.
On Tuesday before I left for my journey to see one of my idols I mixed it up a bit, we moved away from writing big pieces and working on paragraph skills and moved toward fun reflective posts. I made a playlist after getting the suggestion on Facebook. I reflected quickly on the memories tied to those songs. My students and I laughed at my stories of heartbreak with Bon Jovi’s Always playing as a soundtrack. Then they started creating their playlists. One turned to me and said, “We need to do this kind of stuff more often” You’re right we do.
Be mindful teacher friends, we are in the closing stretch and our students feel it too. We are all a little bent but it is not too late to make sure we don’t break. Learning is fun when you let it be. Sharing my tear filled teen love letters with my class followed by stories of my youth all to the music of Wild Cherry and B4-4 was a highlight of the year and it is May. We have tests coming but we are having fun too.
Enjoy the ride because before you know it this year will be over. Don’t let your students feel you have done more to break their love of learning than build it.