“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
2016 was hard for many people. Many of us experienced great joy this year, but that joy was often overshadowed by suffering, sadness, loss, and hopelessness. The same is true of any year, but for whatever reason it seems that 2016 has been almost universally difficult.
Isn’t it nice to think that 2017 is a new year with no mistakes in it yet?
Next week, most of you will be returning to the classroom. Many of your students will be high on holiday happiness; others will be even more withdrawn because of the events, interactions, and disappointments of the last few weeks. Next week, YOU will set the tone for the rest of the school year. Next week, YOU can make a difference. You get to choose what to talk about and how to talk about it in your classes. You get to choose stories that show new perspectives. You get to choose stories that show strength, love, and kindness. You get to choose stories that build empathy. You get to choose stories that inspire us to action!
Yesterday, one of my friends shared this video on Facebook about a Tasmanian boy named Campbell Remess who, at the young age of 12, is making a difference in the world:
I was so excited about this story about Campbell that I hired a babysitter today for two hours so that I could write it up. Why? Because I’m crazy. CRAZY ABOUT MAKING SPANISH COMPREHENSIBLE!! Writing stories in Spanish for you to use in class is my guilty pleasure. I don’t get to be in the classroom anymore. I don’t get the privilege of having 175 world changers smushed into my classroom every day. I get five. (Yes, we’re having another baby! In May!) Five is good, and 500 is better. I work hard every day to teach my own children that their actions and their words are meaningful, powerful, and within their control. I love being home with them and I miss working with students that are not my own children. So I get to do it vicariously through you, dear reader!
There are several things that made me so excited to share this story with your students:
- Campbell is young (12) and has already made a huge impact. “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love, faithfulness, and purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:2. Adults love to hate on younger generations, don’t they? Encourage your students to be examples to their peers and the adults in their lives in everything they do. Campbell is an inspiration to his siblings, to his parents, and now to the world.
- Campbell learned a new skill in order to make a difference. Often, we try to think about how we can use our current skill set to make a difference in the world. But what if the thing that most moves our heart is not an area in which we feel uniquely gifted? Some stars are born; some are made. Campbell didn’t know how to sew well when he undertook this project. He only knew that he wanted to give gifts to children at the hospital. Without other means, he decided to make the gifts, and he worked hard to become proficient at sewing so that he can now whip a bear out in just about an hour.
- Campbell doesn’t care what other people think about his hobby. A boy who sneaks around to sew stuffed animals? Doesn’t exactly fit the mold…and that’s one of the things that I love about his story!
- Campbell found his passion at a young age. One of the great gifts that we have as language teachers is the ability to connect students with the passions that will drive them for the rest of their lives. Once we know how to make input comprehensible for our students, we can teach them about ANYTHING. Content is not our goal: communication is–and we can communicate about anything! Set up your curriculum in such a way that students are equipped early on with high frequency vocabulary that will allow them to talk about anything by just mixing in a few new words. Most of the ‘content’ that I teach in class is about the target culture (although not always–Campbell is Tasmanian!). Within the realm of the target culture, though, I can teach about anything! Science, sports, food, dance, nature, history, customs, inspirational figures…truly, I can find something that will be interesting to each and every one of my students. My goal is not for every student to love the content of every lesson: my goal is to provide a small amount of exposure to many different things so that students will find something that intrigues or excites them and will make a way to learn more about it on their own. Campbell is proof that you don’t have to wait until you are 18 or 21 or 25 or 30 or 50 to start on your purpose-driven path in life.
- Campbell is just a normal kid. He’s not a tall, dark, bronzed, chiseled, well-spoken, wealthy young man. He isn’t a sewing prodigy. He is completely average. Oh except he is one of nine children. NINE. Of course his mom didn’t have money to buy gifts for all the kids at the hospital, sheesh! He is just a kid who wanted to do something and set his mind to finding a way to making it happen.
So there you have it.
And here you have IT: the reading about Campbell that I wrote in Spanish. You could add it to your class library and let students self-select it as a story to read on their own. You could do a “Story Listening” activity (technique developed by Beniko Mason; in layman’s terms, the explanation is telling a story to your students in a way that is comprehensible to them while they listen), and support the storytelling with illustrations on the board. Follow up the storytelling by giving students the article to read on their own. You could tie this in with a ‘unit’ about making a difference (share Gianina’s story!), or you could work it into an activity about New Year’s resolutions (here is my ‘doce uvas’ New Years’ lesson). Or you could do something else. Anything your heart desires. Just please, please, PLEASE make it comprehensible!