Whether ministry or teaching, my favorite part of the job has always been developing relationships with the kids. It thrills me to greet my students in the morning, with a big hello! I love the challenge of their sullen, forlorn frowns as they amble down the hallways. As I stand in the hall by my door, I think to myself, “How am I going to turn those frowns upside down?” That becomes my first goal of the day.
As I reflect over this school year, I’ll say it’s been especially hard to make a breakthrough with some of my students. Partly, because they are just more reserved. One young man is especially shy, and has avoided eye contact with me all year. Now, I know that no one can force a relationship, and I firmly believe in allowing people to be who they are. However, it saddened me that with all the interactive and engaging instruction I’ve experimented with this year, nothing seemed to connect with him.
That was until a couple of weeks ago…..
My students lost their winter break due to snow days that needed making up. I knew that they would not want to be at school on Monday. So, I thought, maybe I’d incorporate a song. My school Principal had played a music video entitled, “Brave” by Sara Bareilles over morning announcements the week before, and I loved it! So, I thought, “Hmmm…I could build a lesson around that.”
So, I created a lesson entitled, “What is Your Brave?” I began the lesson by having my students get in a large circle around the room. Next, I offered a brief mini lesson on what it meant to be brave, and I told them I wanted to see their bravest dance moves, while the song, “Brave” was playing. They all giggled nervously, while I “pumped up the volume” (Ha!- 90’s reference). And we boogied around the room for an entire three minutes. The students, for the most part, really got into it, and I did, too. After all, I can’t ask them to do something that I wouldn’t do. So, I hammed it up big time. I loved it, because it was a breakthrough.
The sullen young man who moped around all year changed that day. The next morning he came in with a smile, and asked what song I was going to play. I was so thrilled that now, we dance every morning–one song–during homeroom. The students love it! What’s even better, after the song is over, they get right to work. But, the difference is–they are all smiles.
Blessed am I, Dear Lord, to be a teacher.
My students’ favorite song to dance to– “Happy” by Pharrell Williams