Dreams

8 Sep

 

 

Photo by Sandra Arduini*

 

I love my students.

A few weeks ago, I had a student come into one of my classes, sigh heavily as she sat down, and state in an exasperated tone, “Ms. G, I wish you taught my math class!”  Before I could ask why, a young male student in the back of the room said, “I don’t.”  As the female student turned around to read him the riot act, he held up a hand and said, “Wait! All I mean is that if Ms. G taught math, we’d be in hell.”  I stood at the front of the room and smiled as I asked, “Why is that?”  The student responded, “Because if you taught math, we would not only have to calculate stuff like how long it takes Joe to get from Detroit to Chicago traveling 60 miles per hour, we’d also have to stop and analyze why he decided to go in the first place!”  As soon as I was able to control my laughter, I told the student, “Many people feel your pain.  Many people.”

The students I have the privilege of teaching are some of the most amazing people in the world.  They are creative, insightful, smart, funny as hell and unflinchingly honest. I frequently take my students down challenging learning paths, because I not only want them to learn the material presented in the class, I also want them to learn how to use it to improve their lives.  My method of doing this is rather unconventional at times, but because my students and I trust each other, they are always willing to go along for the ride – sometimes just to see where we will wind up!  I pose theories, present ideas and ask for their take on issues, and while my students have strong opinions, and don’t always agree with my take on things, they never fail to open their minds and engage in the discussion.

Many times, I think I learn more from them than they do from me.

Last week I posed my theory on how people don’t dream enough, and shared my dream of becoming a rock star with them.  I started by asking them what their dreams were, but for some folks sharing those dreams with classmates was a little more than they were willing to risk.  So, as usual I jumped in and said I’d share mine since it’s my job as their teacher to practice what I preach. Even thought I’d already blogged about it, I still felt a little embarrassed to be spilling such a wild and unlikely fantasy to my students – some of whom are young enough to be my children – but, as usual, I forged ahead and painted a picture of what I envisioned in order to show them that they, too, have the right to dream even the most unlikely things.

When I finished sharing my rock star dream, I felt a little self-conscious because in the back of my mind I knew that what I’d shared with them was not something that would ever be a reality, and I didn’t want them to think I was completely delusional about that.  So, I laughed at myself, cracked a few jokes about my aspirations, and explained why this was not something that was likely to ever come to fruition.

I started undermining my own dream.

As they usually do, my students showed me where I was missing the obvious as they took the lesson, and ran with it.  I was flooded with positive feedback, as students exclaimed, “Oh Ms. G!  You would make a great rock star!” and “I can totally see you in a band!”  One fashion student blurted out, “I know exactly where you can get those boots, Ms. G!” as she began doing a quick web search. Soon, from around the room, students were tossing out suggestions about how I could become a rock star — albeit on a smaller scale.  They suggested taking guitar lessons or playing Guitar Hero or going to karaoke night – but thoughtfully added that I should probably have a few drinks and then wait until two or three other people bomb before I perform.

As students brainstormed ways to make my fantasy a reality the conversation began to shift, and I listened to them allowing their own dreams to begin to hatch.  As they tested out their budding wings, their classmates jumped in and encouraged them flap harder and aim higher!  The discussion continued for quite awhile and I listened to my students urge one another to investigate and research their dreams.  Some even shared the resources they already had, and, like a good teacher, I pointed out the ways in which they were actively applying the research skills we’ve been studying this term.

The lesson was important for all of us in some way or another.  We each contributed what we had, we each took away what we needed, and in the process we fed our dreams.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

*”Choose Happiness” photo by Sandra Arduini for sale on Etsy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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