Friday, September 18, 2015
Thirty years in public and private classrooms and I am here to assure you that many of the most significant, most powerful and life-changing lessons at school occur outside the narrow, lock-step lines of the common core in a nebulous, necessary place where relationships, affective learning, and meaningful connections dwell. Where the common core seeks to throw each one on the pan balance of you versus the standard expectation, this “other place,” by offering each one a mirror, invites each one to look deeply inside and construct a bridge from old understanding to new. As bridge builders, we are challenged to engage in our learning rather than simply being a repository for information. This “other place” is one where we encounter and grapple with friendship, courage, creativity, compassion, bullying, aspirations, inspiration, despair, grief, hope, possibility, the “why’s,” the “but you don’t understand’s,” tenacity, boldness, fear, loss, and every other such thing as is simply synonymous with being human. We stand together in this “other place,” no one better, no one worse, just everyone trying and in the process, building bridges. One particular year, somewhere between a spelling test and a new math unit, we encountered death. Our beloved janitor passed away. This jolted our school world, this world we shared each day. His unrelenting kindness touched us all. Keeping the hallways neat as a tac, he moved from one fixing task to the next while always maintaining a vigilant protective watchful eye as might a soldier posted on the wall to guard those within. Gone. And in his absence we somehow felt insecure and alone. His wife called and wondered if the students, who all meant so much to him, would be willing to sing at his memorial service. Of course! was the unanimous decision. With all of our hearts, with full strong voices, with great love, and a few small tears, we shared the gift of music with his wife, his family, and all who loved him. That memorial service changed us all; it bonded us. It built a bridge between our hearts and all who attended the service. It was absolutely an “other place” of learning, lightyears away from the common core, but elbow to elbow with life and significance and meaningfulness.
Find here 2 links to a TeacherPayTeacher store where you will find the song written about this experience, a children’s song called “I’ll Remember:” 1 link for simple sheet music and 1 link for an mp4 file with lyrics for singing along: