Students will be able to write a personal mission statement using their goals and character traits that they value.
Week one of final project. Yesterday we talked about S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) and they wrote goals for 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. They couldn’t write “get better grades” – they needed to be specific about all As or no failures. Today, they chose one of those goals to write a step-by-step list of how they wanted to accomplish them. After, they brainstormed character traits they valued, things they hoped to accomplish, and discussed what sort of adult they wanted to be. They used all of these revelations to write a personal mission statement. Most took this very seriously. I plan to type up their statements, print them on business cards, and give them to them to keep in their wallets.
As important as I feel this exercise is to teach some of my students to be introspective and live more intentionally, it was not the block of my day. That was devoted to my lunch hour. First, I met with one of my students whose (older, already graduated) girlfriend was selling a car. She asked him to have me (me! She’s never met me – apparently he talks about me) look over the contract for owner financing to another person. They wanted to have it notarized and wanted to it to look good, so I played lawyer and did a little googling to help him put together an owner-financing contract.
After he left, one of my young ladies came in in tears – we’ll call her Sarah. Beginning yesterday, Sarah sat on the other side of my classroom, away from her group of usual girlfriends. They carried on as usual, but she did her work and then put her head down. Turns out, Sarah was “booted” from her friend group and she is unaware of the reason. They keep giving her “attitude” and “demand she apologize,” although she isn’t sure what she is thought to have done. As she explains and uses up my box of Kleenex, she reveals that all this has occurred over text message (mistake number one). While she was talking, one of her friends from a different friend group came in and says that she thought Sarah wasn’t talking to any of her friends, because that’s apparently what she heard Sarah was saying (talking about conflict with people not in the conflict: mistake number two).
The next thing out of Sarah’s mouth is, “Can you ask Sadie next period what’s going on?” (mistake three, letting someone else talk for you). I said absolutely not. Obviously I am confused and really shouldn’t be involved, but she did come to me and it breaks my heart to see how mean people are to each other – especially when this happens right after they write mission statements about being caring and taking care of other people. High school girls are the worst. I suggested that she try to talk to someone in person – NOT over text message. I asked why she didn’t call. She said, “They wouldn’t answer, what’s the point?” I told her to stop telling other people about the conflict, and to pull someone in the group aside and, non-confrontational, ask if she could borrow her for a few minutes privately sometime this week. Not right then, not on the spot, but alone later. When she does talk to one of her friends, be apologetic – even if Sarah doesn’t know what she is apologetic for. Instead of saying, “Why is everyone suddenly mad at me?” say “If i did something wrong, I absolutely want to apologize – but I’m not sure who I need to apologize to, and for what.” Even if the situation is totally irrational – I’m pretty sure it is – conflict solving is about going directly to the person and NOT discussing it with anyone else. It is not about putting the other party on the defensive. And it’s definitely not about being overly dramatic. By the end of lunch I was out of Kleenex, chocolate, and any emotional oomph I started my day with.
After school I spent an hour with a student who wanted me to look over his application for Bush’s Chicken (his first job app ever) and help him put together a resume to submit with his application. We talked about how to follow up on an application and some interview techniques. He was incredible grateful; I really hope he gets the job. As exhausted as I was by the end of the day, I was also very thankful to have had a day that felt so…useful. I felt like I may have actually done some good in some lives. I guess that’s what makes teachers want to come back every year.
To end my post, I am sharing one of the videos that apparently is going around my students’ Facebook pages. It’s a British slam poet talking about why grades on major exams do not automatically decide a person’s fate. Third period begged me to show it. The poet, Suli Breaks, makes some good points about issues with formal education. One student asked if Suli meant that he could do whatever he wants. I said no. The poet means that a test score does not determine what type of person you turn out to be – each individual decides that. This idea fits in with our lesson today, the point of which is to get students to think about what type of person they want to grow into. Getting an A does not make a person better than someone who gets a C. The video was more a critique of public education’s reliance on test scores, rather than on the necessity of education. I’m sure he would argue that attending school is important, though he wishes it had more applicable subjects. I agree; this is the entire goal of my final portfolio project for my students. I want them to examine who they are and what they want to be and do and how they are going to do it. I’m so excited for the last four weeks of school.