Opportunities To Do The Right Thing
I’ll be honest— the closer we got to Monday’s solar eclipse, the more nervous I became.
What if our students misbehaved and didn’t take our warnings seriously?
What if, in an effort to be funny, someone really did stare at the sun and suffer eye damage?
Several of other schools decided to remain inside— was it too late for us to do the same?
It reminded me of an experience I had several years ago when given the privilege of leading a summer program for at-risk freshmen students. We developed engaging, technology-driven curriculum and organized weekly supplemental field trips to reinforce key concepts studied throughout the week.
For our first field trip, our class of 25 students and 5 teachers visited the Clinton Library, and we ate at Gusano’s Pizza in the River Market for lunch.
Despite our planning and all our best efforts, the trip was a disaster due to student misconduct and discipline issues. After the last student was picked up that Friday, we held a teacher meeting and we all felt the same way— no more field trips the rest of the summer! We were one-and-done before it was a thing.
After a weekend of reflection, my mindset shifted and I couldn’t wait to meet with our teachers Monday morning to share a new idea. Instead of cancelling our remaining field trips, I proposed we plan more trips to give our students more opportunities to the do the right thing.
It took a little persuasion and some were skeptical, but we did it. We added two field trips and even added a banquet at the end of the summer.
Did we have any misbehavior and struggles? Absolutely!
Did students learn and grow from those opportunities? Often!
Was adding more trips the right decision? No doubt!
The solar eclipse on Monday was no different for me. Despite the risks, we gave our students the opportunity to do the right thing— and they exceeded my expectations! I don’t think it could have gone better.
As this school year gets going, we need to be on the lookout for opportunities for our students to do the right thing. They’re the times when we’re just not sure if students will be able to handle something. At times, they won’t— but those are the teachable moments where we step in, coach, teach, and mentor students. Those are the lessons always remembered.