Saturday, December 5, 2015

Celebrate the need for laughter and human connection

I have been reeling this week from the news out of California (and Paris and Colorado and...). I am having a hard time being productive because I can't stop focusing on the hatred and negativity that seems to be swirling around me, our country, and our world in recent days and months.

So I need to celebrate and focus on the good that is happening in the world and in my classroom. I need to celebrate laughter.

So here's a couple good laughs for you, and especially for me.

Last night while I couldn't stop festering about something that happened earlier in the day, one of my good friends posted this link on Facebook of an interview with Carrie Fisher on Good Morning America and it gave me the good laugh I needed. I have a confession to make, though: I don't even like Star Wars, but I have to say that this was the best celebrity interview EVER.

More laughter came in the form of a wonderful writing conference I had with a student yesterday. Students have been revising their author bios this week that they wrote at the beginning of NaNoWriMo. Many of them, now that they had spent a month donning the identity kit of a writer,  decided to completely overhaul their author bios and start over. I am a proud and beaming teacher right now to see them embrace revision in this way.

I came close to not having writing conferences yesterday because I was feeling particularly negative and questioned if they even make a difference, especially because they are so time consuming. And plus, I always worry if my comments are hurtful rather than helpful to their writing. But I pressed on. And I met with one particular student who completely changed his author bio and in so doing, had deleted one quirky detail that I suggested he put back in. In his first draft, he said that one of his hobbies was "lawn care." I have to admit, for an 8th grader that gave me a good chuckle and I said that I would love to see that incorporated into his final draft somehow. My good chuckle then turned into full on uproarious laughter replete with happy tears when he proceeded to tell me that he loves "lawn care" so much that his most recent birthday present from his parents was a backpack leaf blower. And he was serious. He said his parents haven't had to do any yard work for the past three years.

(But, you know, "kids these days" only care about spending time in front of screens.) <--- It's very hard to perpetuate that negative attitude when you actually force yourself to sit down with each student and talk to them as individuals. 

So had I not taken the time to confer with students yesterday, I would have never heard such an entertaining story that made me see this particular young man in a new light.

And as the world continues to fester in its hatred of those who are "Other," all I can do is hope that the personal connections I make with my own students will make a difference in helping to contribute to creating a more tolerant and accepting world. When it comes right down to it, humans just want to be validated. They want others' words and actions to say, "I see you." I am striving every day to try to make that a reality in my own classroom.  It's not always successful, but I am making a conscious effort.

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres


  1. It is hard to find the good things when we see so much hatred spewing on the news, I agree. Thanks for your happy stories, wonderful to hear. I agree that when we really get to know the students, wonderful things come out that we would never have guessed. Love your 'lawn care' student, and that he wanted to tell about his passion.

  2. Oh my goodness...and 8th grader with a lawn care hobby. How hilariously wonderful! Keep looking for those moments of laughter. We need more of this in the world.

  3. I think those personal connection moments are larger than you might imagine. Keep having them! And keep laughing :-)