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Sharing Powerful "Aha" Moments - Create a Chain

Posted by on in Student Engagement
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It just struck me. Presumably, the way it might strike a student seeming disengaged in an ocean of thought, we, as teachers can enact powerful change in the lives of very important people: the kids we teach, the colleagues we connect with, the administrators who believe in us.

I'm overwhelmed today with the kind words of educators who have never even met me; how truly powerful a kind word can be in the middle, of... well... anything. Think about how simple it is to say something nice. (pause) Consider why not enough people do... Then...

Be the change you want to create. Start small. As soon as your recognize something meaningful (anything meaningful), say something, don't just think it. Start a positive chain of do-gooder-ness. Make someone's day (advice passed on to me by the H.L. Hall, teacher and colleague).

Too often, we drudge through life, incapable of seeing the beauty in small moments that can potentially turn into big ones. A former student, now student-teacher comes to observe my class. She tells me about what she's learning and what she wants to do. I have a choice. I choose to help and it feels good, for both of us.

My son experiences life as a series of
My son experiences life as a series of "aha" moments..successive experiences of awe that I get a lot of joy watching

This weekend is a student's birthday. I knew. So I wrote a card and gave him some stickers. Didnt' take much time, but it made his day. I had a choice. I made it and it felt good for both of us.

A colleague of mine does tremendous work with his students. We used to share a classroom and I find him inspiring. Regardless of seeming hard on the outside, he is passionate and full of idealism. So when I intervisited his class, I told him how awesome he was; how I enjoyed watching some boys become invested in their learning because of what he presented and how he presented it. I had a choice. I made it and it felt good for both of us.

I'm sure you see the trend emerging.

The "aha" moment is a powerful experience. It can be elusive and coy... flirting with potential and then disappear from view. It can distract and anger us if we don't get it. But all is forgiven when it shows itself again.

Existentialism and absurdity are the overriding philosophies my AP class has been toiling with. We ponder the immense beyond only to be smothered by the lack of answers or continued growth of more questions. But we dive deeply into it, swimming until we can find a buoy to hold onto.

My seniors' ability to grapple with such big questions never ceases to send awe and optimism into me. Moments like this are why I teach and why I could never imagine leaving it. If we can help a colleague or an administrator why they do it, why not choose to do so?

Anyway, Friday, I'm going to try to bottle this amazing feeling I have and share it on another day, carry it with me, with everyone for as many days as I can put together. As cliche as it sounds, life can be filled with Aha moments - if we let it. If we participate in it. If we share it.

Please feel free to share an aha moment or different ways to get other people to share in the collaborative good.

This post originally ran on StarrSackstein.com

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Starr Sackstein currently works at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, N.Y., as a high-school English and journalism teacher. She is the author of Teaching Mythology Exposed: Helping Teachers Create Visionary Classroom Perspective, Blogging for Educators, Teaching Students to Self-Assess, Hacking Assessment, The Power of Questioning and Simply May . She blogs for Education Week Teacher on “Work in Progress” in addition to her personal blog StarrSackstein.com where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher. Sackstein co-moderates #sunchat and contributes to #NYedChat. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Follow her @MsSackstein on Twitter.
  • Jon Harper /  @Jonharper70bd
    Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd Saturday, 20 February 2016

    Starr I love this idea! I try so hard to find the joy in the moments like my kids and students do. I am not as successful as them, but I am not giving up. It is amazing once we make a conscious effort to really look for these moments, how many of them really present themselves to us. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Starr Sackstein | @MsSackstein
    Starr Sackstein | @MsSackstein Sunday, 21 February 2016

    Thanks for taking the time to read, Jon and sharing your ideas... you are far more successful than you give yourself credit for, but we certainly see what we seek :) So we need to keep looking for positive instead of negative :)

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