Waiting for Permission

Today I boxed up 691 books to send off to elementary schools in our district. This is the 4th year in a row I’ve organized the Books for Backpacks program. The goal is to get books into the hands of kids who might not 

have access to getting a brand new book on their own. I love having a small part in providing these resources to kids. But nobody told me to start this program.

One day at church I was thinking about ways I could help improve students’ reading abilities. I was thinking about how much I love getting new books and how sad it was that some of my students probably never had 

the chance to get a brand new book of their own. But I wasn’t sure if this was true, so I asked them. Over half the students that year said they had never received a brand new book. They’d received used books and library books but not brand new ones.

I started thinking about how I could get good books into kids hands, so I collected books and wrote applications for grants to purchase new books. I found ways to buy books that would earn points to get more books for free.

Nobody said, “hey you should go start a book drive.” Nobody told me this was an important thing to do. Instead I saw a need and filled it.

There are a lot of people out there who talk about things that would be great like “Wouldn’t it be great if…” or “Can you imagine how great it would be if…” and yet they never take the next step to make it a reality. They worry so much about what might go wrong or reasons why their idea won’t work that it stays relegated to the great idea column.

Since that first year of collecting books, I’ve given away over 1500 brand new books to kids all over the district. I’ve also started collecting and giving away used books within my school and we’ve given away another 2500 used books. None of that would have been possible without taking a risk and trying something new.

If you have a great idea, try to make it work. Figure out what is one small step toward making it a possibility. You never know what might happen. You might be right. It might epically fail, and then you can try again. Or it might be a huge success and make a difference in people’s’ lives.

Why my #five4five is getting posted on day 10

Last week I heard about the #five4five challenge on the Well Played podcast and thought it sounded like a great idea. The challenge was to try something new each day over the course of five days. I decided to write a blog post each day. The plan started out great. I wrote my first blog post.

Check it out here: https://mrstockrocks.com/2018/04/24/choice-and-challenges-go-hand-in-hand/

The next day I tried to get a new article posted. I really did. But instead I only wrote half of it. The next day I was able to finish it along with writing another one. The day after that I wrote another one. And then it was Friday. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to spend time with family. Saturday I tried to write something, but nothing was clicking. Finally I posted my 4th post.

Today I am writing my 5th post in my #five4five challenge. Here’s what I’ve learned: I failed this challenge epically, and I’m OK with that. I tried something new. I pushed myself further than I had all year. I wrote 4 posts over the course of the week. Before that I’d written 4 posts since January.

I also learned that writing a blog post each day is crazy. There is no way for me to fit that in to my life right now. What I can fit into my life is 10 minutes of writing each night. We’ll see if it goes beyond that, but for now I’m excited to write more and get my ideas out there.

Post #2: https://mrstockrocks.com/2018/04/25/college-is-an-option-but-its-just-one-option/

Post #3: https://mrstockrocks.com/2018/04/27/more-than-just-a-data-point/

Post #4: https://mrstockrocks.com/2018/04/29/video-announcements-rock/

Teach Students the Why

This weekend I spent a lot of time reflecting on what the students know and what they don’t know yet. On Friday they took a quiz and, along with a couple of assignments, I realized that I did not do an adequate job preparing them to read a non-fiction text. This was especially troubling, because we were already half-way through one.

I had to regroup, so I made a list of all of the things that were the most vital for understanding the text and the one that stood out to me the most is something that has been a theme of mine all year. I didn’t tell them the why.

Image result for freedom walkers

We are currently reading Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman. It’s a great text about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Many of the students know who Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks are, but they don’t know the details of their story. To them these are two figures from a long time ago that we talk about in school.

Today I decided to focus on the why. I started by asking them, “why did I choose this book out of all of the books I could have selected?” They had some great answers along with some superficial but still true responses. We talked about the physical book: the font is bigger, fewer words per page, and there are pictures on almost every page. We also talked about the importance of the Civil Rights movement in history. Several of the students brought up the importance of learning about history so we don’t repeat it. Finally, several students brought up comparisons of things that happened during the movement and how they relate to the world today.

Overall, it was a great foundation that I should have started with at the beginning of the unit. The next thing I asked them was, “how would you have ended segregation if you grew up in the 1940’s and 1950’s?” They struggled with this question like I knew they would. After a couple of minutes, instead of asking them for their answers I asked them how difficult it was to decide on a strategy that would end this massive problem. Then we talked about having a laser-like focus on a problem. We talked about how the bus boycott was meant to end segregation on buses, but their hope was that it would lead to more progress. We talked about taking small steps toward a bigger goal.

I’m hoping this moment to regroup will set them up for success later on. The hope is that in a few weeks they will decide on their own challenges, their own movements they want to start to make the world a better place.

 

*This is a post that I wrote while I was still setting up my new website. It’s a couple weeks old but still pertinent.