When I look back on 10 years of teaching in the language arts classroom, this is by far my greatest instructional achievement.
It started with a book recommendation, Be A Changemaker, by Laurie Ann Thompson. It ended with over 80 students changing the world in their own way.
- addressed our school board about issues dear to their hearts that they hoped the board could improve
- volunteered an entire morning to serve breakfast and lunch to hundreds of homeless people
- created t-shirts to raise awareness to end child abuse
- held a food drive to donate to a local shelter where abused women and children can go
- walked dogs and donated all the money to a local pet rescue
- taught the students with special needs how to do make up
- wrote a poem about human trafficking, entered it to be published on some teen publishing sites, and read it during the afternoon announcements to the entire school
- made a giant visual display for the cafeteria about food waste and hunger
I could walk you through the ins and outs of what I did, but copying my little experiment won’t work. This is one of those Take It and Make It Your Own kind of lessons. This is something you’d have to be equally passionate about to make work. I challenge you to do so.
I hesitate to make many guarantees to teachers since we all have such varied classroom personalities and ways of teaching our very different students. However, this is one comes with a promise: Creating a safe (non-graded but full of support) place for your students to effectively change the world (in a way that doesn’t directly benefit themselves) using their own passions and skills (which are constantly being fostered) will be your greatest instructional achievement. I guarantee it.
- Check out from the library or buy the book Be A Changemaker
- Ask yourself how you can make this a part of your classroom/curriculum
- Do it
To see what it looked like in my classroom, check out the links below.
Some essentials that made this even better:
- Administrator support. They were there to approve or guide students with ventures that affected the entire school.
- Community support. While some companies exercised their right to say, “No, find another business,” many of them stepped up with donations or help. Those that didn’t offered my students a valuable lesson too in not giving up!
- Parental support. I loved getting emails from parents saying, “This is all my kid talks about! And he never talks about school!” Some parents thought their students bit off more than they could chew, so that was one roadblock I’ll expect more of next time.
- Colleague support. Some of my students had to miss class to carry out their ventures. Teachers were very cooperative to let students make up work and encouraged students along the way!