If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you will never change the outcome.
We’re heading into March Madness, that nutty time when impossible dreams come true for some basketball players and their obsessive fans. My vote this winter for the most captivating basketball player (and fan!) goes to Aaron Miller. He is the boy in the photo who is meeting LeBron James – have you ever seen an expression of such pure joy and disbelief on anyone’s face?
I was skimming the newspaper a few months ago and was instantly drawn into Aaron’s story. Aaron is 16 years old. He had a stroke shortly after he was born, and doctors told his parents, “Aaron will never be able to walk or talk – he will always be severely disabled.” The parents refused to accept this prognosis. They moved near a world-class hospital in Boston to work with a different team of physicians. After many surgeries and treatments, Aaron began walking when he was almost five, and from then on he made rapid physical and cognitive progress. But even before he could walk, young Aaron loved to spend hours throwing baskets through a small hoop on the bureau near his bed.
In the moment captured on film, LeBron jogged over to hug Aaron and show him respect. Aaron had been recognized as an “Everyday Hero” at a Boston Celtics game during a break in the action. LeBron heard a bit of his story as he was in a huddle with teammates, and was inspired by Aaron’s perseverance. Now in high school, Aaron plays basketball and golf on teams for students with disabilities.
I can’t imagine the grit it takes to refuse to accept the prognosis of experts – it must look a lot like madness. But what if those doctors, instead of predicting a grim future for Aaron, had said, “Your son will grow up to be so remarkable that one day the greatest basketball player of his generation will honor him in front of thousands of fans?” Crazy, but that is exactly what happened. THAT is reality.
Aaron’s father was quoted in the Boston Globe when asked how his son felt about meeting LeBron. He said, “The whole thing has left Aaron just in awe, but he really appreciates it. He’s not a kid that likes the spotlight or anything. He’s just happy in his own quiet world, and this really kind of made him shine.”
March is the season of basketball madness, and it’s also a time of heavy testing in schools. I think one of the reasons teachers can get pretty defiant about tests is that they are by definition limiting – often only a few students can excel. Exams are used to sort, predict, and sometimes close out options very early in lives and careers. But in the quiet world of a classroom, anyone can shine daily, and anything is possible. Aaron Miller failed almost every physical and cognitive test given to him shortly after birth. It’s a good thing to remember when we begin to fixate too much on what the children in front of us can’t do . . . yet.
This week we look at ways to keep a healthy perspective on learning during the testing season. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Two teachers are disappointed in student assessment results, but they have very different approaches to tackling the problem. Heather Rader shares her role as a mentor in assisting her colleagues in Coaching for the Test:
The Draw-a-Reader test from Suzy Kaback is a fun way to get to know the readers of any age that also provides insight into their background knowledge and personal reading histories:
If you too are interested in Aaron Miller’s story of basketball and personal triumph, you may enjoy this brief video where LeBron James describes the experience of meeting him:
For Members Only
Melanie Meehan works with fifth graders to help them create their own set of indicators of success in a writing unit in Student Self-Assessment Strategies:
Christopher Carlson takes on the role of observer and researcher to analyze his students’ needs when it comes to test-taking skills, and enlists students in the process of reflecting on his data to implement new test-taking strategies:
Tests of Time, a vivid new poem from Shirley McPhillips, explores the disconnect between exams and life:
PD2Go: Andrea Smith chats with two fourth graders who are considering a word problem and math vocabulary in preparation for state exams:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard RI.4.7: Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
In an encore video, Franki Sibberson prepares her grades 3-4 students for state examinations by helping them observe attributes and patterns in test questions:
That’s all for this week!