Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Students Aren't Waiting

This post appeared on the Edmodo blog May 17, 2011.

Last Saturday, Will Richardson posted “There are Some People Who Don’t Wait”on his blog, weblogg-ed. The post was about teachers who don’t wait…who jump right in, who take a chance, who embrace change in education and the lives of young people.

Will wrote,

“... I couldn’t help thinking about the many teachers who I have met over the years who haven’t waited. People like Shelley Blake-Plock and Dolores Gende and Anne Smith and Kathy Cassidy and Brian Crosby and Shannon Miller and Shelley Wright and Jabiz Raisdana and a whole slew of others who had some type of hunger overcome them, something that made them jump right in and really change the way they thought about teaching and learning and classrooms.”

As I continued to read, the next part of Will’s post said it all.

For some, I know, what’s happened over the past decade or so has simply afforded a way for them to do more of what they always believed, to give kids the reins and let them learn about learning.”

I love that line! “To give kids the reins and let them learn about learning.” This is the perfect description of what needs to happen in education. We should be empowering our students to drive their education and to have a voice in where it takes them.

He went on to state,

They’ve put kids ahead of the system, redefined themselves as learners first, teachers second, found the courage of their convictions and made learning, not test scores, the focus.”

As I read Will’s post, I was not only honored to be mentioned, but also smiled as I thought about what had happened the day before at Van Meter. I had moved over for the students…I became a learner and watched as the students took charge of their learning experiences that day. I watched a group of 7th grade girls take an idea and resources that I had given them, embrace it as their own, and figure out how they were going to make a difference in not only their lives, but also in the life of another person and throughout the world.

I could go on now to tell this wonderful story, but why do that when this is the story of my students? I will let them tell you how they are not waiting either.

“After Mrs. Miller won the Connecting People Shorty Award, she was featured on the Girls Who Rock blog. She shared the blog and also told us about another connection called She’s the First. She asked if we would be interested in learning more about the organization and told us how we could get involved. Mrs. Miller planned a Skype before school last Friday with two awesome Notre Dame students, Casey Kraft and Monica Townsend. They are in charge of setting up school chapters of She’s the First.”

“We learned about ways we could make a difference and had a great time brainstorming ideas with Casey, Monica, and our group. It was so fun to meet them and talk about starting our very own chapter at Van Meter. Most of all, we couldn’t wait to start making a difference in the education and life of another girl who really needed us.

“After the Skype, a couple of us had an idea. That afternoon was Kid’s Club in our elementary school. All of the students K-5 would be gathered in the activity center for a celebration of talent. We asked Mrs. Miller if we could ask Mrs. Merical, who is in charge of this production, and the elementary principal, if we could tell everyone about She’s the First at Kid’s Club. Mrs. Miller was excited and gave us a pass to go share the idea with the them.. They said YES, so we were on our way to planning our first fund raiser for She’s the First Van Meter. We only had a couple of hours so we worked fast.”

“With only a few weeks of school left, it had to be an easy project. We found some containers in the art room and created She’s the One buckets for each classroom.”

“We knew from the beginning that we must work together as a group for this to be successful. “

“We wrote up a little speech and picked four of us to present. We were going to tell the students, teachers, and school community about how we could all make a difference in the world.”

“Here is our speech that we gave at Kid’s Club. Our mission and goals will be clear after you read this,

Education… What does that word mean to you? Well in third world countries like Sudan or Guatemala education means opportunity for young girls. Across the world 130 million kids are not enrolled in school and 70% of those kids are girls. An extra year of primary school can increase a girls wage by 10% a year of secondary school adds to wages anywhere from 20% to 25%. She’s the First not only enables girls to earn more, it also empowers them to do the impossible. Overcome poverty and become successful. “She said she could do it so she did.”

That’s the She’s the First motto.

We are the first secondary chapter ever. So we picked a school we would like to send the girl we are sponsoring. This school is located in Tanzania and is a very unique school not only because of giving girls in poverty an education but because it also incorporates technology in everyday learning.

What does that school having technology mean to us? Well since they would be able to have technology we would be able to Skype the girl we are sending to school about once a month. To send one girl to this school would cost us $1,000 each year.

What can you do to help? Well you can donate money to help support a girl pursue her education. Every teacher well be given a She’s the First container to keep in their classroom to raise money. At the end of the year we will collect the money and the class who raised the most by the last day of school will get She’s the First signature tie dye cupcakes. If you ever want to check out more of what She’s the First does go to and follow us on Twitter at @STF_vanmeter. You can also find us on our “She’s the First Van Meter” Edmodo group. This will be a great place for all of us to communicate and share ideas with each other and our new friend in Tanzania.”

“Even though we are 12 and 13 years old, WE can make a difference. We are empowered to be leaders and teachers, not just students. We are involved in our learning through collaborating and connecting with others. We are empowered to create great things and to have a voice. We are not waiting for someone to tell us how to do this. We can all change the world! One person at a time…we can make a difference.”

As you can see, these students also “had some type of hunger overcome them, something that made them jump right in and really change the way they thought about teaching and learning and classrooms.” Just think what this will teach them about learning and what it will bring to their lives. We need to embrace the change that our students can create. We need to encourage, support, and guide them along the way. We need to let them know that they are making a difference.

And remember…

We can all make a difference in education.

We can make a difference in the lives of our students and empower them to do amazing things.

And never, ever be the one who is waiting


Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian and technology specialist at Van Meter School in Iowa. You can find her on Twitter at @shannonmmiller and blogging at Van Meter Library Voice

Richardson, Will. “Weblogg-ed » “There Are Some People Who Don’t Wait”.” Weblogg-ed. Web. 17 May 2011. .

1 comment: