It’s hard not to sound trite about the value of persistence to our students, ourselves. Even this lovely, succinct TED video almost falls prey (which isn’t going to stop me from opening up class with it right after break). I’m thinking about this hard, though, as a major project falls into pieces.
I had been working since June to get my kids connected, through a local nonprofit, to a project where they deliver and read picture books to kids in poverty-stricken schools about five miles from here. I developed an entire unit around examining altruism and consumerism, with the literacy field trip being the capstone. I sold it to my principal and district, shockingly and gratefully, since we’re all under the financial gun.
All looked good– until plans with the chosen school fell through, and the substitute school couldn’t accomodate key curriculum elements in time to maintain the integrity of the unit. On the advice of my principal, we postponed until next year.
So this stunk. And I cried. Being a dreamer and a perfectionist, I felt ashamed and guilty, as well as incompetent. And right there is when I could have chucked all the cumulative good in the attempt.
But for some reason, this year, the little handholds in the rock seem to be there– emotionally, mentally. I was able to see that even the aborted beginning of the project means that next time around, we’ll likely be able to bring it to fruition, having learned from the failure.
So many good ideas may die this little death in schools, I think. We pour ourselves into it, it gets stomped, and we’re tired and aching and overworked and overtaxed, and we ditch it– like so much bilge off a sinking boat.
Don’t. Despite the culture of Race to the Top. Despite the widespread gutting of real-time measures of growth in schools, in classrooms, in teacher evals. Don’t let them tell you that success happens in isolated ten-month chunks that have no relation to the longitudinal flow of how we actually learn and grow– as professionals, or as students.
Persistence is the only way anything worthwhile gets done at all.
And for those of you thinking about or currently working with consumerism and media literacy, here are the four resources that wrote the unit for me, basically. I’d love feedback on related stuff you might be doing in your classrooms.
The New Mexico Literacy Project: quite possibly the richest resource I’ve found.