I started what might well be the most important unit I have ever attempted today. It’s called Dream Big, and it was inspired by a link to a video from a member of my Twitter personal learning network.
The teacher in the video began with a simple set of statements. “In order to reach our goals in life, we have to have a dream. We have to have a plan for our future.” she says. “What have you done to make your dream come true already?”
Heady talk for 6th graders? I think not. Julia Clukey, a member of this year’s Olympic Luge team, took her first “luge run” at 12 at a trial on a street in Portland, Maine. She’s been “making her dream come true” ever since. The video created an aha moment for me and sent me on what I think could be the most important trek of my career.
It sounds dramatic, but the teacher’s statements really hit home for me. Success rarely happens by luck. It is the result of tenacity, of belief in self, in a person’s ability to be resilient. It’s also something we don’t teach directly. We assume kids get it. Many don’t.
The teacher in the video listened to the dreams of the kids and validated each one. Each and every dream was reasonable and valuable; each child felt valuable as well, I’m sure. She also emphasized the need to plan and follow through in order to achieve a goal. I felt as though a mirror was being held up to me- did I offer this same assurance and encouragement to each and EVERY one of my students? Or just the ones I thought could deliver?
With renewed energy and resolve, I’ve started the Dream Big Project. On the surface, it’s a multimedia project that teaches kids about the elements of a good presentation, using short strong impact statements, and organizing information that is relevant to them. We’ll produce short Animoto clips to share- some may be a combination of dreams, other single shots, as students desire. Each class starts with a transition from keyboarding to the Dream project with the music video “Dream Big” by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband.
The project is bigger than this. It has to be more than merely lip service to my students- I have to have at least the same belief that they do that they can, in fact, do anything they set their minds to.
I’m having students from the high school come down daily and talk about the paths they have followed in pursuit of their dreams. Just a quick 5 minute pep talk. Basketball stars, artists, those that thought they would never graduate- all are invited. My 6th graders will see dreams in action.
My hope is for each student to not only have a dream, but to carry a dream. Sometimes it will be all they have. To inspire hope, we have to believe in possibility. This will be an ongoing series of posts…wish me luck.