While waiting for a flight last weekend, I spent time in the airport Life is Good store. I must confess – I really love their merchandise. The shelves were packed with t-shirts, sweatshirts and coffee mugs depicting icons of recreational activities and the phrase “Life is Good.” I was tempted to purchase the sweatshirt depicting a travel trailer, a bicycle and a kayak, three of my favorite things.
Flying home, I was remembering this store. Every t-shirt graphic displayed a picture of some type of hobby – from fishing to enjoying a cup of coffee. Not a single picture had anything to do with work. There were no graphics of computer screens, classrooms, meeting rooms, or spreadsheets. While I understand the purpose of the company, it has made me think about the atmosphere of our classrooms. Do we approach learning with a “Do what you love – love what you do” attitude?
As educators, we all have too much to do and way too little time. How powerful might it be, however, if we substituted the words “get to” for “have to.” “I get to plan this lesson tonight to help strengthen my students’ thinking. I get to grade this stack of papers so I can better grasp my students’ understanding of this concept.” We could then take that attitude into our classrooms and share it with our students. Think of the power of changing the statement “You must master your multiplication facts” to “You get to master these multiplication facts so you can become a more fluent mathematician. You get to correctly punctuate this paragraph so your reader will completely understand your thoughts.”
I tried this substitution with a third grade class last week. We “got to” gather and organize ideas prior to writing an opinion paragraph. The students were enthusiastic and loved using colors to circle words that went together in categories. We spent 40 minutes together brainstorming and organizing our thoughts.
The next afternoon after school, a third grade student walked into my classroom. “I brought you something,” she quietly said, laying a sheet of paper on my table. As I looked at her handmade poster, a feeling of joy filled my heart. She had written, “I love writing!”
How blessed I am to be able to say I do what I love and love what I do! Happy Writing!!!