So. Why they bought in after that day in a way that felt distinctly different. Why they surrounded me and hugged me repeatedly on the last day of school. Why one sweet girl brought me a cake. Why Slick spent his whole first day of summer vacation helping me move my classroom.
I’m going to talk about me with this because I believe that I’m the determining factor in my classroom; I’m the leader and the responsibility for creating this kind of community rests with me. Could I have done it without my students’ full involvement? Absolutely not. But it would never have happened without mine, and they buy in (or don’t) because of me.
I think…it was a lot of things. I was honest. I told them that it hurts to see a kid deteriorate and that I wish I could change things. I was protective of them, explaining that makes me angry when adults speak badly about students. I was vulnerable, sharing with them that it’s hard to not feel like I should give even more when I watch these types of movies. I listened to their ideas, going against my usual seminar rules to answer their questions at the end. I related to them, because I love the movie and so did they. I made it a safe space in which they could talk about their fears and hopes and experiences (like Smiley did another day after school). I honored their ideas by letting them talk about whatever they wanted that connected to the movie without me stepping in.
Every single one of those is an attitude I can, and I try to, express every day. But it doesn’t always happen, and that day it did. It all clicked, shifted into clarity all of a sudden like on a trip to the eye doctor as he fiddles with that strange sight machine (better on one…or two? Three…or four?), and our newfound vision lasted for the rest of the year.
I hope we can do it again next year.
(Photo credit to cheetah100)