Saturday, 28 April 2012

Just Another Thursday

Students recording their project in the recording studio
I had an interesting Thursday a few weeks ago when I was pleasantly surprised three times. The first was when some boys came into the library to use the recording studio.  What was surprising was not their use of the studio, but the fact that one of them was a student of mine who I would never have guessed had any interest in music or singing. He was a junior hockey player who (I assumed) spent most of his time thinking about sports. I would never have anticipated his choice to create a musical project. 

My second surprise came after a short activity in my class where students were asked to draw key images from a poem they were studying. I often try to throw artistic options into my lessons and this was a simple five minute activity. Many students give me stick figures or something equally simplistic, (and that's fine because I'm looking for their understanding of the poem and not their artistic ability). That said, when  I was going through the sketches later that evening I was caught off guard by this:

Again, I was not surprised because of the quality of the drawing, but because I did not expect this type of ability to come from this particular student.  The student was a big, tough, wise-cracking rugby player, and I had no idea he could draw! He whipped off the above sketch in less than five minutes. 

Finally, on that same Thursday, I needed to drive across town after school and 2 students asked me for a ride. One of the students gets into trouble fairly consistently and is known as a difficult student to have in a classroom. We ended up having a chat as I drove, and imagine my surprise when I found out that he plays in his own band, and also takes a Jazz class in the mornings at 7:30 as well as a regular band class. Hmm..somehow this boy who can't get to regular classes on time, or stay focused, manages to get up and attend early music classes as well as practicing regularly and performing on his own. Again, an example of something I wouldn't have expected. 

On that particular Thursday I had three different students completely disprove my superficial assumptions about them. Each time I was also reminded of how important it is to find ways for students to connect with their talents and passions within regular classrooms.  If the first student hadn't been given an opportunity in his marketing class to write and perform a jingle, his teacher and I would never have discovered his passion for music. If I had never offered a simple sketching option in my class, I would not have discovered the second student's artistic ability. I wonder how many teachers of the third boy have no idea how passionate he is about his band. 

It was a unique day in that three different students surprised me with their hidden talents, but why were these talents such a surprise in the first place?  Student passions and abilities should be out in the open and celebrated because we should be providing ways for students to connect with them and engage with them on a regular basis.  I just happened to discover the personal interests of those three boys that day, but those interests were always there. How many of our students pass through our school system without anyone knowing what they are really good at or what they are passionate about? All of these students walk through our hallways and sit in our classrooms everyday.  In that regard, it really was just another Thursday. 

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