Friday, January 29, 2010

The Physics of Recharging

Every once in awhile you get a day that re-energizes. 

Much of the work I do involves emails and writing and research and keeping up with journals and planning and delivering professional development. There is a fair bit of sitting at a desk typing into a computer.  The field work can vary.  There are really positive days when a school staff is all on board and I am helping them make their school better for kids and really draining days when it's a rainy three hour drive out and back to a school that still has a lot of resistance to this, that, or the other aspect of our work. If you are an educator you must have your own version of a typical week.

Yesterday I was at one of our Demonstration Sites for a "Heroes Day." Heroes is one of the 8 Conditions.  A few weeks ago, all the students in this school selected an everyday Hero and, depending on grade level, wrote an essay or drew a picture about why he or she selected this person as a Hero.  Invitations were sent out to all the Heroes to attend the event yesterday.  Some were able to come, some couldn't. The Heroes included many parents, but also brothers and sisters, teachers, grandparents, other students, police and fire fighters. Even the principal was selected by 2 students.

The event itself involved a visit by the Hero (scheduled throughout the day in 30 minute blocks), some refreshments, and then the student reading the essay to his or her Hero. There were people in and out, the principal serving cookies, a patient administrative assistant crossing names off a list and handing out certificates. One grandfather-Hero checked his grandson out of school 45 minutes before the end of the day and wrote in the sign-out book in the Reason column (where most had written sick earlier in the day): personal.  I said, "No wonder you're his Hero!"

I also attended the Hero ceremony of a Kindergarten teacher who had all her students' Heroes come at the same time.  In turns, Hero and student sat side by side at the front of the room, the student shared why this person was a Hero, a photo was taken, the student walked down an aisle to collect a certificate to hand to his or her Hero, and a hug was given. The whole thing from snapshots to cake took thirty minutes.

No doubt the day was disruptive in many ways. Nor do I think grandparents should be pulling their grandkids out of school early. Some parents who felt an obligation to be there may have had to miss an hour or two of work. Yet, despite these short term inconveniences, I could not help glimpsing the long term impact an experience like this can have.  It's easy to forget that every single little thing any one of us does makes a contribution to some kid noting on a Thursday afternoon that there is a person in her life who really cares about her and her success in school. 

We receive many requests to explain how we measure the impact of our work and much of our work is measurable. But some of the work of educators is flat out impossible to measure because it starts with a hug in a kindergarten classroom and turns into a full scholarship to Harvard 12 years later.  For my part, I am grateful for the physics that allows a battery to last a long long time after only a thirty-minute recharge.

No comments: