“Mrs. Leeeeeeee, I don’t wannaaaaaa. What if my teachers say I can’ttttttttt?”
Here’s the deal. I’ve been accused of picking favorites. Look me up on teacher sites, and you’ll see it. I admitted to the class where a student asked the above question that it’s true. I do pick favorites. Do your work? You’re a favorite. Don’t? You’re not.
Truth. Might be wrong, but it is what it is.
Does that mean I won’t work with you? Nope. Does it mean I’m going to let you skate by being a solid C-D-F student and not jump up and down, tease, cajole, insist, call your parents, make you call your parents while I’m standing there (great idea from a great English teacher), do everything in my power to make you one of my favorites? Nope. If you’re in my class, I don’t plan on letting you skate (unless you bring skates to the room. It’s big enough now to do that.). In fact, if you’re not doing your work, I’m going to make you as uncomfortable as I can. If you’re not doing your work and you’re comfortable in my classroom, I’m not doing my job.
The girl with the above quote? She’s one of my favorites. Most of my students fit that bill.
I’m in the middle of revamping my program. Because of that, I’m pushing kids out of their comfort zones. I figure the above conversation intro will be repeated time and time again over the next six weeks. The next couple weeks we’re touching on photography. We’re using Walsworth’s curriculum and taking it step by step. Step one: Visual Storytelling. I knew she was going to freak when I told all of the students they were doing this. It took six months to get her comfortable with interviewing. If I’d let her sit in front of the computer and design or write editorials and reviews–especially book reviews, she’d be in HEAVEN. But I wouldn’t be doing my job.
So I made her take the photos and narrow them down to 5-7 to tell a story. She has to have a lead image, variety and a closer.
I’m gone to Regionals tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what she has when I get back. And if she still needs to do the work, I know I can get her to do it when I’m back. Because she’s that kid. She wants to do a good job. She CAN do a good job. But she’s afraid.
She’s afraid of people looking at her while she’s holding the camera, of teachers telling her to put the camera away, of doing the work wrong, of doing something she really has no idea how to do because my instructions after an overview of visual storytelling were pretty general: Find a Rider story and tell it photographically.
She wants specifics. And she wants to hide. And she wants to be comfortable.
Not going to happen.
And when we’re done, maybe not this time–or the next–or the next, but before she leaves my program, she’ll have learned how to get out of her comfort zone. How when you walk into a room sure of yourself and your mission, people generally let you go about your business, especially when you have a press pass.
And while I’m teaching her and the other kids in my program, I’m teaching myself the same thing.
Because once upon a time, I WAS AFRAID. I didn’t want to be noticed. I was afraid of failure and wanted to be left alone in the world of newspaper and yearbook advising, and I didn’t want to worry about other technology or education reform or campus leadership. Once upon a time the only people who knew my thoughts and feelings were close friends. But a good teacher friend of mine who taught debate and WFISD’s Leadership Cohort changed me.
And if I don’t get her out of HER comfort zone, I’m letting that old me come back into the picture. Not going to happen.