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How I told my Students.. part 2

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

How I told my Students.. part 2

Last year, I went back to school.  I had to tell my students something about our life.  I wasn’t really sure what or how I was going share my life’s circumstances, but I did feel compelled to tell them.  I’ve never been an especially private person and usually like to face my demons head on.  You can read about how I told my students last year HERE.
This year I needed something new.  Not only do I like to mix up my lessons, but I also had some returning students.  I didn’t want to use the exact same way / message / delivery.  I have a lot of teacher friends living parallel lives – so here is how I told them.
We all made time lines.  On our lines, we put between 3 and 5 events that changed the course of our life.  Every student did this and I did it also.  Before we wrote our cards, I explained to them how one small thing in life could change the entire course of our lives and have far reaching ramifications.  Did you know that Hitler wanted to be an artist? Imagine if he had been accepted into art school? (he applied.)  Or – How about Henry VIII?  He wanted a son so badly he created an entire new religion to divorce his wife and marry Anne Boelyn. 

I started the sharing… with my parent’s divorce.  I moved, changed school districts, made new friends, and our family did not have a lot of money on one income.  We went around and shared (private… no spilling here) other things.  It was an amazing experience of sharing.  I’m so glad I shared the divorce – it was not too sad that no one could relate, but something that was serious enough that other students felAM9553B&W1t comfortable sharing real stories.

After everyone who wanted was done… I finished.  I shared how having children changed me – first the twins – and then Alexander.  I told them about Alexander’s syndrome… what it mean for us … and how it didn’t then I dropped the bombshell.

At some point in life – something unexpected will happen to each of us.  We can let it hold us down – or use it to build us up.  Very similar to the words spoken from my “New Normal” post. 

I’m going to be honest.  It could not have been more perfect.  We had such a meaningful conversation… about life, fears, goals, dreams, and overcoming obstacles.  How amazing would it be to inspire some students enough that they remember this conversation … when that unexpected thing happens … and they chose to overcome.

So that is how I told my students – 2011 style. Photobucket

Don’t forget to link up tomorrow with Friday’s Confession Booth!

So what do you think?  Which way to you like better?  Any suggestions for next year?

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At September 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM , Blogger Shell said...

Sounds like you really put this in a way that the students could relate to.

At September 2, 2011 at 5:59 PM , Blogger Heather said...

Kristen, It sounds to me like you are exactly where you are supposed to be in this season... in the classroom. What a great lesson, in that it really ties together the study of history with the story of your students' lives. I love it! You sound like an incredible teacher, and I hope the transition to the new school year is going well for you.

At September 2, 2011 at 9:30 PM , Blogger Kisses4Kaylee said...

I do a very similar project with my seniors at the beginning of the year in conjunction with the study of the novel Siddhartha. Like the boy who has to learn his own path to enlightenment for himself-- he cannot have others "teach" him how to find Nirvana, they create a timeline of 5-8 events in their life that helped shape who they have become and the life lessons they have learned(thus far). I always illustrate the project through sharing my personal experiences~ my mother's breast cancer fight and father's open heart surgery while in college, almost losing my brother in the Twin Towers on 9/11, getting Amanda's Autism diagnosis...this year, of course, I will include Kaylee and WHS. After they develop their project, they select one or two events of their choice to share with their peers~ giving them insight into the person they thought they knew, and almost always leaving them with a greater sense of closeness (which benefits everyone). My students always tell me that it is one of the best projects they do in their high school careers; I've been doing this for 15 years (as long as I've been teaching seniors), and I agree that it is inspirational and therapeutic for everyone. The best and most important job we have as teachers is to help our students guide themselves into becoming life-long learners...about the world around them, about one another, and about themselves. Kudos on what sounds like a very successful start to a new school year!


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