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I Don't Shine If You Don't Shine

Blogging is a selfish act.  I blog for myself.  While it pleases me when others read and comment on my blog, I write because it helps me make sense of the day, my students, my plans and what really matters in life.

Teaching can be selfish, too, if we are not careful.  Sometimes teachers can get wrapped up in the lesson, the need to be in charge, or a desire to be in control and forget that teaching is really about the student.

My brother is dyslexic, only he never bothered to tell anyone until he was an adult.  He is also creative and hilarious - a combination that can be disruptive to traditional classrooms.  Not that long ago, he told me a story about when he was in 1st or 2nd grade.  It was the first week of school and he was nervous.  He was trying to make sure the pencil fit in the groove at the top of the desk when it fell.  He picked it up, but it fell again.  After about the third drop, the teacher noticed.  She was annoyed and said something like, "I guess we all have to wait for Benjamin."

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have all made comments like this.  It usually isn't about the pencil or the even the student.  When we as teachers get annoyed, it is typically because something disrupted our plan for the day.

I'd like to be able to say that Benjamin brushed this off and moved on.  But he told me this in his thirties, so I'm guessing the shame and embarrassment lingered at least long enough for this event to become a story you might tell your sister later on in life.

When we think about how to show students kindness and caring, it is important to remember that little comments can have enormous ramifications.  We need to make teaching about the students and their needs - not our egos or the lesson - no matter how many times the pencil falls off the desk.

There is a Killers song that I love.  Read My Mind has nothing to do with teaching, learning or school.  To be honest, I am really not sure what it is about, but I love it anyway.  The lyrics read:
"Oh well I don't mind if you don't mind
'Cause I don't shine if you don't shine"

It's a little love song that I sing to my class sometimes.  Mostly, I sing it to myself to help me remember that I can be a selfish blogger, but never, ever a selfish teacher. I won't shine, if they don't shine.  Humans can shine, for sure, but we shine the best and brightest when we all shine together.