Sunday, August 23, 2015

Of Dreams - Week Two

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." 
Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)

Most people who work in schools are a bundle nerves the night before students return. 

"Do I have my room together?"
"Is my computer hooked up properly?"
"Will the buses arrive on time?"

These are just a few of the questions bouncing around the heads of eager principals, faculty and staff. All of these frantic thoughts point to logistical concerns, but there are deeper questions that can steal sleep.

In the classic play 'Les Miserables,' one of the most piercing songs is 'I Dreamed a Dream.' The character Fantine, is reflecting on a situation that finds her in deep despair. She remembers better days and almost cries when she sings the concluding lyric - "life has killed the dream I dreamed." 

I believe dreams are the most potent attack against urban violence, societal mayhem and generational poverty. Langston Hughes based much of his poetry on dreams. Dr. King used the theme of dreams to usher in the zenith of the greatest social movement of the 20th century. One of the greatest hip-hop songs begins - "It was all a dream." Dreams are life.

They are especially important to the children who will line our halls and fill our seats this school year. Students grow up dreamers. Then, schooling happens. High-stakes tests, benchmarks, report-cards and the pressure of being the right kind of data coalesce to sometimes choke hope out of the voices of our most school dependent children. Too many students aren't dreaming any more. 


Teachers are not immune to this phenomena. Years of stagnant scores, emotional teacher-student exchanges and public teacher shaming can really turn the heart of a teacher. Then come questions of a different kind.

"Will it work this time?"

"Am I able to turn these scores around?"

"What if I commit myself to the work and the scores don't move?"

Although these questions can weigh heavily on the collective consciousness of teachers and administrators, I believe this year can be different. Teachers and administrators have the unique opportunity to model the words and work that will make a difference in teaching and learning so that students can dream again. It all starts with the belief in work. Great results are wrapped in hard work. The work matures when we collaborate. All of us is better than one of us. Finally, dreams happen when there is a shared vision between teachers, administrators, students and families. When we know where we are going and what it's going to look like, we can hope again. 

So, what is your work strategy for this year? How are you going to collaborate within your own educational community? What is the shared vision for which you and your students are aiming?

What dreams do you have for your students?

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