My seventh graders and I had a nice long chat this morning about the earthquake in Haiti. It isn't where we started the conversation, but it's where we wound up. I often like to ask my students for input on what we're doing in class. They usually have some great ideas, and my hope is that it makes them feel like they have some say in where their education takes them. It is their education, after all.
This morning I asked them for some ideas on a project for social studies. One of the first ideas that came out of the conversation..."we should do something about Haiti!" Well, what do you mean by "something"? "We should raise money to send them supplies and stuff!" Stuff. Any other teachers out there who've banned the word "stuff" in their classrooms?
In the span of about ten minutes, we went from a bake sale to raise money for "stuff" to holding a triathlon to raise money to build a community center in Haiti! The kids would even like to design the community center!
Part of me kept wanting to stop them and say, "You know, you're talking about a lot of work, a huge commitment, and who knows if we can even pull any of this off." It was really hard to be supportive of their big ideas, but I managed to fight off my inner pessimist. My kids can change the world. They just need me to step out of the way!
My favorite moment this morning was when one of my students raised her hand and said, "Um, we should probably do some research first."
Really??? What a fabulous idea!