Working in the same school for a quarter century has provided me a chance to witness the continuum of formal education for several groups of students. However, I've failed to note the significance of this, that is, until "reading" Dave Grohl's book, The Storyteller.
Days in the classroom turned into school years that'd pass in the blink of an eye. As school milestones seem to blend together, only hazy details of students' stories, setbacks and personal victories are left behind. How to we avoid missing opportunities to celebrate how small daily successes shape who children and adolescents become, as contributing adults?
Look for those "kids like Dave" in your school community.
Or don't, and watch your life and work become devoid of everyday purpose and passion.
But how do we, as educators, take responsibility for our role in kids finding their purpose if we ourselves lose our way, on our own paths? We each bear a responsibility in contributing to a culture that ultimately determines whether we have done everything to help a student or a group of students. When each of us accepts a role to add value, the group gets stronger. The key: Look for the small, individual moments, and build from there.
Here are 3 ideas from The Storyteller to help you find, elevate, celebrate, "Kids like Dave".
"There's a theory out there that most musicians decide their creative path in life between the ages of 11 and 13. This is the golden window of opportunity where independence and identity intersect, a most treacherous phase in any child's life where you become your own person..."
- Dave Grohl, reflecting on his growing up discovering his purpose, to become a musician.
Any of us who work in a school understand the importance of all that is learned in school that doesn't happen in a classroom. Dave's world was drumming and song. Think of "that kid" you know who's world has little to nothing to do with what's written in a textbook. Find out more, supplement that kid's passion, and you will not only support independence and identity, but he/she will look back someday and remember, it was you, who believed in them.
"It's not always the kid that fails the school; sometimes, it's the school that fails the kid."
- Dave Grohl's Mom (a 25 year teaching veteran)
While this line felt a bit like a wakeup call, the reality is, by accepting it, we are accepting our responsibility to continually improve, for others. Ways to ensure we minimize our role in "failing the kid" include, getting to know his/her story, opening ourselves to building on his/her individual goals, and celebrating and supporting where necessary. It'll require us to shift from teaching to learning, unlearning, and relearning. But the gifts will be worth it.
"...because every day is still a blank page, waiting to write itself..."
- Dave Grohl, on starting over, persevering, learning, and pursuing adventure
"Every day is a fresh start." This is a line I use, probably every day, as a middle school principal. So reading this in Dave's book, well, let me just say, made me feel like "that kid" whose teacher let him know, he sees him and believes in him. So yes, every day is a fresh start, and a blank page. And that's true for us all, whether a child, adolescent, or adult.
Click here to see how "Kids Like Dave" go on to become, "Dads Like Dave".
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