Kids. Deserve. It. Take a minute and consider that. Whatever good there is out there, kids deserve it. Whatever opportunities there are out there, kids deserve it. Whatever bright future we can show them, kids deserve it. Whatever silly scheme we’re cooking up next in the classroom, kids deserve it. Kids deserve every bit of our best, and not one ounce less. That’s what book 17 is all about. Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney co-authored a book that took the world by storm. This book reminds me of my why every time I open the cover. It’s obvious that it has done that and more for so many educators as Kids Deserve It has a tremendous community on Twitter full of passionate educators who push boundaries and challenge conventional thinking.
I did not have a desire to be a teacher when I was a kid in the same way many teachers did. When I was a girl, my best friend wanted to play school all the time. Because she was my friend, I obliged… however, I dreaded it every time. I grimaced when she’d mention going to her garage because I knew that meant pretend worksheets, sharpening pretend pencils, or sitting in our pretend desks. I always, always let her be the teacher.
See, I really didn’t like school. I was GOOD at it, but I didn’t like it. I enjoyed the social aspect – I was the kid that always talked, no matter who you sat me beside. I was the one who would be hiding a book I was reading in my desk while you went on and on in math class; I would doodle in my notebook making you think I was working until you came over and saw the hearts and squiggles everywhere. I was never a behavior problem, unless I felt backed into a corner or embarrassed in front of my peers. I made excellent grades, and would happily tutor a friend if you asked me to. But I didn’t go running into school every day excited for what was to come. I didn’t go home in the afternoons and play school with my teddy bears, Sandy, Smokey, and Brownie (don’t judge… don’t you dare judge, ha). My parents weren’t teachers; in fact, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I don’t have an “a-ha” moment of when I decided to be a teacher. I couldn’t tell you why I chose to go to school to be an educator. I just remember putting it on a pathway form I was filling out for the guidance counselor one day, and thinking… okay, I’ll go be a teacher then. There were no sparks, no fireworks, no heavens opening and angels singing. Just an ordinary day.
It wasn’t until I was around students of my own that I realized my “why”. THEY were my why. I needed to be around the kids. They make me come alive. I can be having the worst morning of the worst week and walk into a classroom of kids… and it changes me. I become a different person when I take on the “Mrs. Ray” part of my life. My daughters would tell you that I’m not the most patient person. I’m not one who enjoys loud sudden noises. I do not like spontaneity at all; I NEED a plan! We frequently ride in the car with no music on because “mom needs some quiet time.” But when I’m at school… I am insanely patient, I love to surprise kids with wild antics, and I play music on Pandora the entire day. I thrive on the creative chaos that learning brings! Students bring out the best in me. You can even see it in pictures. If I’m around my students, there is a glow on my face in pictures. I quite literally come alive when they are around. My students are my why. And I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve every good thing in life I can give them.
This book speaks to my soul. There is a story that I can relate to every single chapter. I picture a student’s face, an experience we created in the classroom, a phone call home to a parent who desperately needed to hear some good news about their child. Unfortunately, I also think of all the ways I have failed my students in the past 12 years. The doors that I slammed, the times that I was too tired to bring my “A-game”, the effort that I CHOSE not to put into a lesson. This book makes me want to be better – not just as an educator, but as a person. Many of the things Adam and Todd speak of are just things that good, kind-hearted, empathetic, loving humans do for one another.
It’s about going the extra mile to notice a kid in need, to praise them when they deserve it, to be their cheerleader, to find out why they behave the way they do. It’s inspirational in every sense.
I could literally implement one thing from every chapter – actually one thing from every story within the chapter – that Adam and Todd share. Many times I’m thinking Wow, that’s a great idea! I could do that! after reading a story within a chapter. Sometimes it’s affirming because I think Oh man, that’s like this time I did this… and I can relate to their story with an experience of my own. In light of this being my third reading of Kids Deserve It, there are three things I want to implement for #DBC50Summer.
1. Phone Calls Home: I love to call parents and tell them a story of how incredible their kid is! Last year I noticed one of my 8th graders walking another 8th grader with special needs down the hall. As always, I waved from the fishbowl of a media center and the two young men walked in the door to say hello. We struck up a short conversation in which I found out that the 8th grader with special needs was upset about something happening with his Chromebook and his friend was trying to help him figure it out. We got him a loaner Chromebook and assured him that his Chromebook would be repaired soon and I’d get it back to him as soon as I could. When the two teens left the media center, I immediately looked up the phone number of the 8th grader who was helping and called his mom. She was so touched by the phone call, and it made my day better because I had focused on a good deed that one child did for another, rather than a Chromebook being broken. I wanted to pay it forward as well. This year, I want to make it a priority to call 5 parents a week to personally give them an example of when their child was an exceptional human being. Because I don’t teach academics in a classroom setting, I get to call about everything BUT grades! How awesome is that?! I can’t wait to make these calls and document the reactions!
2. Ride the Bus: I want to ride each bus in the morning and in the afternoon at some point this year. When I started my first media position at an elementary school several years ago, we took a workday and rode the bus routes as a staff to see where many of our students lived. It was an eye-opening experience. I love the idea of being on the bus to greet students as they come to school. It also allows me to see their homes. We have four buses, two of which we share with the high school, so I look forward to seeing former students as well. I’m not sure how I will implement this yet, as I have two daughters of my own that need to get to school, in the opposite direction of my husband’s job. I will make it happen though, one way or another.
3. Shadow Students: There were times last year that a student would walk in the door and seem a bit “off”. There were days I would stand in the halls during class change giving high fives and hugs and notice that a student wasn’t walking with their “best friend” that day. I try to notice those things and speak to those students throughout the day to check in on them. I want to make that a priority this year. I want to be “in their heads,” so to speak. I want to build a relationship with students that will allow me, with one glance, to tell that something is off and speak to them. One way I plan to do that is to shadow students in classes. I want to get the full experience of being a middle school student, going to their classes, completing the work, eating lunch with them, everything. (I draw the line at using the student restrooms though… I will still be using faculty bathrooms. Just saying.) By shadowing students, I will be more empathetic to their lives and use the experiences to continue to remember that they deserve my best, and the best of their classroom teachers as I coach them.
There are so many things that can be said about this book. I could go on and on about the amazing things Adam and Todd bring to education. Their passion and enthusiasm is contagious. Their focus on the student, not just academically, but the WHOLE student is to be admired and should be replicated by every educator. Why? Because Kids Deserve It.
Both men have gone on to write books that will show up later in #DBC50Summer and I am so excited to read those for the first time. I know they will be just as inspirational, if not more so (Wait…is that possible?), as Kids Deserve It.
As always, you can follow along with the learning, sharing your thoughts and reflections on the Flipgrid. The password is DBCSummer and all credit for the idea goes to my incredible friend Andrea Paulakovich, an educator in Kansas. Andrea had an amazing thought that we could create a space to globally share reflections and ideas as a worldwide book study for any of the DBC books! See, told you she was incredible! You can follow her on Twitter here and follow her #DBC50Summer journey here! If there aren’t any posts on the Flipgrid yet, be a trendsetter. Make the first video! Be bold!
The Kids Deserve It movement can be found globally on Twitter using the hashtag #KidsDeserveIt. You can join the chat, with the same hashtag, on Wednesday nights at 9:00 pm. You may also choose to follow the KidsDeserveIt account on Twitter for updates and information. Checking out the website is a great place to get your hands on more goodness from Todd and Adam like the blog and the KidsDeserveIt Show with SUPERSTAR educators like Dave Burgess, Shelley Burgess, Brad Gustafson, Erik Wahl, Ben Gilpin, Jennie Magiera, and the list goes on and on!
After you grab your own copy of the book, you should check out these videos of the authors as well!
Are you ready for Book 18? The Writing On The Classroom Wall by Steve Wyborney is coming up next! I’ve never read this one and am so excited to see what it’s all about! The subtitle of this book mentions posting about passionate beliefs & by the title, I’m guessing we’re putting those on the walls of our classroom. Guess I better figure out what those passionate beliefs are before I start placing them on walls… Still trying to figure those out from Play Like A Pirate! I’m still struggling through the process of discovering three passions. Guess I’d better start some official brainstorming & narrow it down using Launch‘s methods before reading Steve’s book…