Thursday, November 12, 2015

No Excuses

I've written before about my love of quick writes. I often share picture books, poems, images, and short articles and ask my students to write for two minutes in response. Occasionally I share a longer text or even a video. Today was one of those days.

Last year I first heard of Kyle Maynard. One of my boys' coaches mentioned him as an inspiration. I immediately went home and Googled Kyle, stumbling across this video. I used it last year to talk about the idea of no excuses. 

I had forgotten about the video until this week. There are multiple reasons that it came to mind again. Adults that seem to have an excuse for everything, but a lack of desire to take any real responsibility. Kids that do the same. We are the role models for these children, always. I told the students to settle in, the video was long, and we began.

Each class let out an audible gasp when they realized what Kyle was up against just a short bit into each video. They were focused, wanting to soak in his story. We all cheered when he finally fulfills his goal at the end. And then we talked.

Kids realized why I had shared this video with them. They know, they know more than adults do. I gestured to Kyle and then back at them. We talked about how things aren't fair, but you can sit around and complain about that or get up and do something. I choose the latter. 

I think there is a real danger in complaining about everything. A danger in thinking life will be easy. A danger in believing your happiness in life is contingent upon everything being great. A danger in making excuse after excuse for your actions. I see this with adults. I wonder if they didn't have someone to teach them those lessons, and so I teach my students. 

I love these kids more than I can express. I was beyond grateful to have these honest conversations with them this morning. Now to put our conversations into practice.

And, to lighten the mood, the conversation in my homeroom this afternoon centered around farting. Yep, you read that right, farting. Did you know that it still has an odor if you don't hear it? This was news to some of my kids. I tried hard to keep a straight face as we learned this news together. 

I love fifth graders.