A few years ago I was introduced to this Daniel Pink “Whats your sentence?” video at a staff meeting. As a room of adults we found this to be a very challenging question to address. Though we might not have had a sentence to share at this time, I believe that we all walked away thinking and trying to formulate our sentence in each of our heads. This powerful video is often one I have returned to through the years as I revisit my own sentence to tweak it to be just right for me, the person I want to be and the legacy I am hoping to leave behind. As an educator, I think these are two essential questions that we need to answer as we are influencing and interacting with the students we are entrusted with each day.
Today in the spirit of new years resolutions, I showed my class ranging from 10-12 years old this video and asked them to come up with their first draft of their sentence. We followed this up with an art project where students picked one word they hope people would use when they are describing them to others. We are now in the process drawing the letters in sign language that will be used on an inspirational poster to hang in our room(with their sentence on the back). As expected, the kids are loving experimenting with sign language and experimenting with drawing the hands, but this assignment was interesting to me on many other levels.
First, it was surprising that it was my students who often struggle in other learning who were my first to complete the assignment. It seemed that though math and science learning may be hard for them, they seemed to have the clearest idea of the person they wanted to be. This was great to see and I was glad to see their confidence shine through. On that same note, it was my students who excel in my math science classes that struggled the most with this assignment. It was surprising for me to watch regularly confident students struggle to explain what motivates them and explain the kind of person they want to be.
I was also shocked that when offered the chance to video their sentences to share on our blog, just like the people in the video we watched in class (something that this group usually jumps at), few of my students volunteered.
It was a powerful lesson and one I look forward to revisiting again with my students. Just like my sentence, I am sure their sentences are not yet complete. I was very proud of our initial drafts and hope that they too will reflect on these questions regularly and keep trying to improve everyday just like their teacher.
As we embark on the new year full of new beginnings and new resolutions, I hope you all find your sentence.