The Importance of Self
Good education is often rooted in self-discovery. But how do you foster this in your own classroom?
Welcome to From the Teacher’s Desk, where we take turns further reflecting on our episodes and applications to the classroom.
If you didn’t watch the 2023 Oscars, you actually missed out on a lot.
No actual red carpet…
The first AAPI woman to win Best Actress.
Acceptance speeches that celebrated the length and breadth of the human experience.
And underneath all of the wins for Everything Everywhere All at Once was a big reminder for all of us. We all need space to explore our identities, to be really seen by others, to celebrate our commonalities and differences.
I was lucky that I knew who I was from a young age. I know I was even luckier to meet a lot of adults through my developmental years who encouraged my ideas whenever I spoke up.
But what about the kid in the back of the room, the one who rushes into class late and slips out just as the bell is ringing? How do we empower all students to vocalize their individual identities in the classroom?
Start with a Theme
The first misconception often associated with personal exploration is that it has to be its own unit. While autobiography and nonfiction can pair together beautifully, it’s also very okay to connect basic literary ideas to students’ everyday lives.
So maybe you start by introducing literary themes to your students. Then encourage them to name a theme in their own lives and back it up with evidence.
This is a great way for students to practice skills they will use repeatedly as lifelong literary scholars.
Add Some Music
The second misconception in relation to identity activities is that they have to be bleak. While it can be powerful to ask students to write their own obituaries, maybe we all need a lighter perspective on our lives as we think about them today.
If you want to go further, invite students to think about how their favorite music connects to their identity and self-expression by making a soundtrack playlist for their life movie. We all have soundtracks to our daily lives, but what does this say about who we are?
You can also invite students to write a simple poem as a warmup activity in class. This autobiography poem doesn’t require a full unit on poetry for students to think about how they move within the world.
There’s a reason personality tests haven’t gone out of style. We all love taking them because they can give us a common language to be able to talk about ourselves with others.
If you don’t know where to start with your students, try one of these:
Which Bluey character are you? (Okay, maybe this one is just for me…)
Give up some class time to take the personality test, and then ask students to divide into groups to discuss their results. I have found that some of the most surprising friendships have budded out of a little extra space to learn about the person next to you.
You’ve got this!
In short, you don’t have to attend every extracurricular event your school hosts to get to know who your students are. And you’ll thank yourself later if you take 10 minutes to inspire personal exploration in your classroom.
Want to hear more about identity and good storytelling? Don’t forget to check out our episode of Everything Everywhere All at Once. And tell your friends about this newsletter.
Until next time - keep on lit thinking, people :)
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