Today is the third Friday with my senior English students. Yep, I did it. I’m back in the classroom, learning alongside some amazing young people.
I have a billion goals for myself — enough to weigh me down, certainly — but one that keeps floating to the top is this: Thrive in hope. (Yeah, I don’t really know if that’s a goal, but stay with me here.)
When I left the classroom two years ago, I’d lost a lot of it. Personal struggles. Professional struggles. The state of the world struggles. All of it. But lots of self-reflection, rest, writing, paint, dirt, good friends, family, and growing things –probably most of all growing things — changed me. My hope is back. It’s thriving, just like the plants that add energy and life to my home and my new classroom.
And while I teach literacy skills to seniors in high school, what I really want to teach is hope. Hope in humanity and our ability to thrive — together and as individuals.
So, like you, I’ve started with relationships. Every text we’ve read together, every task I’ve asked students to complete, every book I’ve matched to a reader’s interest has given me insight into who these young people are as individuals with backgrounds, cultures, fears, failures, dreams and desires. Just like me, they cling and pounce and clamor after hope.
A few years ago, after a sniper killed five police officers in downtown Dallas, I read this commentary by Chequan Lewis. The last line still resonates: “My sights are simply set on what is possible when we are courageously human.”
Courageously human. That’s what I want for myself and for my students — to practice courage as a means of becoming better than we were when we walked in the door. So moving forward into senior English plans, I’ll invite students to step into the vulnerable spaces that require courage: reading texts that challenge the status quo, writing honestly about ourselves, our learning, controversies, and convictions; and communicating in ways that validate, clarify, empathize, and challenge.
I’ll step there, too, because the more I think about it: Hope thrives in courage.
Here’s a few of the texts we’ve used thus far to write beside and spark our thinking on this journey. Perhaps you’ll find them useful as you begin your own.
My Honest Poem by Rudy Francisco
Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye; the poem here
“This Bud’s for 3” — Dwyane Wade
If you have ideas for more resources that fit our theme, please share in the comments.
Amy Rasmussen teaches seniors at a large high school in North Texas. She’s a #houseplantcollector, writer, reader, gardener, watercolor-artist wannabe, bicyclist, and grandmother to eight courageous little people, the newest little man born today! Follow her @amyrass and @3TeachersTalk