Monday, October 19, 2009

10 minutes (by Bet)

In ten minutes it is possible to ruin someone's day or completely change the course of their life. 

Think back to when you were in school.  Was there one moment that helped define who you are as a person?  One of those moments for me was when a science teacher decided to put Kat and me next to each other.  Another was spending an entire semester writing one paper.

In our classroom I work with lots of students who don't particularly enjoy being at school.  One of my many jobs is to help them make the choice to cross the threshold of our classroom door each day and learn something that will help them better their lives.  It is a choice that can make the difference between having many options when they leave high school and being left with very few. 

As a result I spend a lot of time pondering how what I do and say affect what choices students make and how they feel about themselves as students and as people.  This is probably true in all parts of my life, but it is particularly in my face every day in class.  I try to keep my temper under control (which Kat will tell you is not the easiest thing to do), I have my students read every day, as they leave I remind them to "make wise choices, be safe and be kind to someone who is not", but most importantly I take them outside of the classroom.

One choice my students have is to be a part of the Older/Younger program at our local daycare.  I round them up every friday and we walk down the road in a single file line.  In the ten minutes it takes to get from the high school to the daycare I can forge a bond that lasts all four years they will spend with me, I can learn what is happening in their family and I can change a decision they might have made.  That is just from the walk.

Once we get to the daycare those students can change how a little person behaves, they can change my perception of them as people, and they can change their lives because for many of them this is the most responsibility they have ever been given.  They thrive. 

Plus, there is nothing like watching my son play "catch-a-me" with Johnny. 

I hope you have a great day made up of many productive ten minutes.  I know I will.  We're competing in our first Poetry Slam today.

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