As Good as a Nap; Okay, BETTER.

Back before I started my teaching degree, I, like so many others, had grandiose plans for the cool projects I’d have my kids do…great authentic learning, exhuberant participation, impressive end results.

Somewhere along the line, reality–cleverly disguised as complacence in the face of standardized testing and too-little-time and pressure from a hundred different sources–sets in, and some of us, myself included, wind up with yet another stack of five-paragraph essays and monotonous worksheets.

There are interludes that snap us out of this jaded burden-bearing of too-many-restraints: excellent workshops and conferences, the occasional inspirational book, world-changing events…

…a good nap or Christmas vacation.

And, in the modern age, there are wondrous things like blogs and twitter and facebook and listservs, all managing to keep the complacence in check.  They don’t eradicate it, at least with me, but they do manage to give it a good run.

One of these teacherly-mood-lifters arrived this week with yet another one of Clay Burell’s “get up and make it real” blog postings, this one on his brand-new blog over at Change-dot-org.  It’s this one, and it even contains a cool informative video.

Today, I shared the blog and video by posting it to the faculty ning I set up (and which is not being used hardly at all, but I’m patient and will keep harassing people to share ideas and collaborate until they either do or I’m fired).  I sent out a little in-school e-mail alerting folks to it, and asked that they view the video before next week’s faculty meeting where I’m presenting some of the cool things I learned at TIES (see a previous blog, and this one, too.)

I got a phone call from my Principal–he loved it and was excited, too.  He was forwarding my e-mail on to other educators in other places.  And he stopped by the lab today when my tenth-graders were signing into the class wiki I set up.

We’re a small place in the middle of nowhere.  Very, very small place.  Very far from any sizeable place.  The nearest Kinko’s is about 85 miles away or more, for crying out loud.   You don’t have to lock your doors here, and there’s a “lake of poo” for (supposed) sewage treatment. 

Connections are important.   These tools–the ones Burell talks about in the video–make us count, and connect us to the larger world. 

And that’s exciting—and the perfect antidote to jaded complacence and fill-in-the-oval-asinine-testing as the most important facet of assessment.

A New Hero

I have a new hero. Someone to join my ranks of Tank Man, Miep Gies, the Dalai Lama, and Abbie Hoffman.

Not because of his willingness to put his life on the line, or his ability to turn the media on itself, but because he’ll help me kick myself in the butt to accomplish things. This guy can show what motivation and dedication can really do.

His name is Myron Rolle, and, because I’m not a sports fan, I haven’t heard of him until tonight (the _Rachel Maddow_ show, and can I just say here that I adore Maddow?).

He’s a young man who has just wrapped up his BA in under time, with a 3.75 GPA, while playing spectacular football AND starting a health program for Native American youth.

Oh, and the other day? He interviewed for a Rhodes Scholar scholarship to Oxford, which he aced, and then jumped a charter plane for Maryland where his football team was playing (yes, that’s right, he skipped a playoffs game to interview for the scholarship), got in in the second quarter, and yes, his team won.

Oh, and his major? Nothing easy-peesy here…it’s pre-med. He wants to be a neurosurgeon.

My hat’s off to you, Mr. Rolle, whatever you decide to do in your future. The next time I hear myself saying, “Oh, I can’t do that…”, I want YOUR image to come into my head, shake a finger at me, get me motivated.

I hope you take on the entire world. Godspeed, young man. And thank you.

NYTimes story on Myron Rolle.