Life has strange twists. Sometimes you’ll plan for hours before a lesson and as it crumbles before your eyes, you wonder when did the wheels start to fall off? You pick up the pieces figure out where to go next time. Sometimes you’ll grab a random lesson from your warehouse of lessons, and find out that it’s not only still relevant, but be surprised of how effective it can be.
While I was student teaching, I was big on pushing an agenda of social justice. I really grew tired of watching indifference infecting many of the youth. I didn’t understand why some people felt the need to react with immediate negativity or neglect. I spent my time at university trying to subtly weave into my lessons ideas of social care and responsibility, and some lessons were outright musings of what we can do better in this world. One such lesson about charity research and taking part in a global way had been tucked away because I wasn’t sure if people were onto my somewhat socialist agenda.
I needed a project to finish off my non-fiction unit with my 11’s, so I reformatted the lesson and turned it into a research assignment about why some celebrities support different charities or foundations. I gave my students plenty of class time, and a fairly simple checklist of what I was looking for out of their presentations. I wanted them to be aware for all the great and amazing foundations out in the world. Awareness is always the first step in my mind, and after that, you hope that some will be moved to action later in life, but for now, I just wanted to let them have some exposure to these ideas.
Fast forward to presentation day. The day was not going smoothly for me. My fears of indifference were front and center for me to deal with, and I was almost overwhelmed for a minute. However, my last block was still to go, and I had to dig deep to push myself to assess the research projects and luckily, one of my students was prepared and excited to present. She spent hours of her own time researching and creating a detailed presentation. Justin Bieber supported the charity, so I assumed that his influence helped lead her to this cause. Not only did she have a passionate presentation, but she even started a petition to help increase awareness for the foundation. It felt good to be reminded that some students do have a positive outlook and can see that all our actions big or small matter. Lessons and days don’t often go exactly as I plan them, but thankfully there are still blissful moments that surprise me.