Stuart's Spectacular Students

This is dedicated to my amazing students. The goal is for each and every one of them to feel unstoppable by the time they walk out of the classroom door for the final time in May. This chronicles their journey; their own Chronicles of Self-Actualization.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chapter Two - Begin With a Bang ~ Real Change, Real Fast

It only took 2 days to make someone cry this year. Dreaming Big can only lead to Doing Big if those big thoughts are backed by Big Emotion.

Emotion drives action. Otherwise it's just wishful thinking. And if it's not positive emotion it's poison, and we need to get that poison out of them right away.

On Tuesday this student was making the same mistakes he made on Monday like not doing his work, goofing off, etc. (photo 1 - see below for description)

I barked at him about making the same mistakes as he did the day before, bellowing out:

"You don't make the same mistakes over and over in this class. You grow from your mistakes in here.

What you did yesterday is over. Today you are MORE than you were yesterday.

And tomorrow you WILL BE more than you were today!

I don't just say this stuff. I mean it! And you will too!
" (photo 2)

I noticed tears coming to his eyes. I saw that he was feeling deeply, and instead of feeling sorry for him, I could see that it was time to switch from the hammer (which breaks what's holding the poison in) to the hug (which squeezes it out). And humor is a good way to travel from one to the other. (photo 3)

So I said, "I see. I see. You're crying tears of happiness, saying 'Oh my! Look at how much this man believes in me. Look at how much he loves me. I know this because he refuses to accept anything less than my best.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, I'm free from my limitations at last!!!!!
"

I smiled at him and while the rest of the class went back to work I pulled up a seat and asked what difficulty on the project was causing him to give up. After we overcame what was holding him back I told him how he NEVER gives up when he's stuck. He may have to ask for help but he never gives up and starts goofing off. And that as long as he kept doing this, everyday he WOULD be becoming more than he was the day before. (picture of MLK and former student I know parents wouldn't mind)

To be fair to him, I got this project from the gifted teacher, who told me I could lower the requirements for my non-gifted students. I smiled at her and said I would lower nothing, and that the students would have to do the rising. (photo 4)

To be even more fair to him, he's ESE, or Exceptional Ed, and supposedly learning "disabled" to do a gifted project.

And to be really fair to him, I held him to these high standards anyway. Setting the bar low only allows someone to rise to a low height. If you get him to reach for the stars, with accommodations that allow him to overcome his limitations, at worst he'll end up on the moon. (photo 5)

***And on day three of this new school year, this same "goof off" came in and worked with such a different attitude AND ability that you would have thought he WAS a gifted student.

As long as he keeps doing this big, he will BECOME this big, and the world will be changed by his presence. That's real change, real fast. (photo 6)


Next - Chapter Three: Victory Over Victimization


Descriptions of Photos:

PHOTO 1 - Brosden reflecting after seeing the prehistoric Serpent Mound, the largest and most mysterious of its kind in the US


PHOTO 2 - Sofia and I outside Lincoln's cabin


PHOTO 3 - Sofia's eye. She and Bella are always experimenting with the camera. Yesterday they filmed their first webisode for their new webshow. They were inspired after watching webshows created by students in my class this year.

Most of us see things and say, "I wish I could do that." A few of us do it. This year in my Homeroom I have many gifted students who after watching Nickelodeon's "iCarly.com" show created their own. I haven't seen it yet but one group said they impersonated me on this week's show. I thanked them for inspiring my own daughters and used it as proof that what we do DOES affect the world around us. It's our job to make sure that affect is positive.


PHOTO 4 - Everytime I turned around Sofia was doing something that made me laugh. There was no fighting, only fun, and the trip was really fantastic. Thank you kids for being the best travel partners ever.


PHOTO 5 - This student (that I'm hopefully hiding enough of) was from a few years ago. It's funny because I was just referring to him while talking to a parent about how he went from F's to A's on spelling tests by trying one unlimiting accommodation after another over 6 months. If you're a long-time reader you might remember him and the pictures of me with tears in my eyes as he told me how he, ON HIS OWN at home, refused to give up and tried something he remembered doing with me at the beginning of the year.

It was what we were doing in this picture, separating the vowels from the consonants to make sense of the word. Soon after he started making this 180 degree turnaround in school, his family was forced to move due to poor economics. The last thing I said to him at the door was that he had begun to develop the power to break this cycle of poverty for himself and his future children, that the change HAD begun, and he needed to keep it happening.


PHOTO 6 - Bella and I at Lake Erie, Ohio, teaching her how to skip stones, just like my grandfather taught me. The kids were so excited to see family that I drove straight through from Florida, and was too tired to change into my swim trunks when I got there.

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