The question for the child is not “Do I want to be good?” but “Whom do I want to be like?”
Recently I viewed a video clip online of Kristin Chenoweth (of Wicked fame) bringing an audience member to the stage during a concert at the Hollywood Bowl to sing the song “For Good” with her. The audience participant was Sarah, and she brought the house down. As it turns out, Sarah was a phenomenal singer, and she astonished both Kristin Chenoweth and the audience with her voice. You can view the video at this link:
I was moved when watching this performance. I’m not sure if it was from the passion Sarah brought to the stage, the joy on Kristin’s face when she realized how amazing Sarah’s voice was, or the song itself, but tears ran down my face as I watched this video repeatedly.
While talking about my love for this video with a colleague, she mentioned how wonderful it would be to share it with my fifth-grade students. I don’t know why I hadn’t made that leap myself, but she was right; I planned to show it the very next day.
I prefaced the video by giving my students some of the backstory of Sarah — she loved musicals and was a voice coach herself. She had purchased tickets to see Kristen Chenoweth, and when they were looking for a volunteer to sing “For Good” with Kristin, Sarah frantically waved her arms to get their attention, letting them know she had the desire and capability for the task. Then I played the video for my students, asking them to soak in what they heard from Sarah, but more importantly, to listen to and watch Kristin Chenoweth carefully.
When the video finished, I asked students what they were thinking and what they had noticed. They were very observant. They noticed Kristin’s excitement, her animated facial expressions when Sarah began to sing, how Kristin held hands with Sarah, how she stepped aside and had the spotlight put on Sarah, her clapping for Sarah’s success, and her insistence that Sarah take multiple bows for her performance.
After their conversation, I shared my intent in showing the video. I told them Kristin represented all the staff at our school because we wanted the students to shine just like Kristin wanted Sara to do well.
“You all have amazing gifts, and this final year of elementary is your time to really let those gifts blossom. As you work and learn together this year, feel free to ‘take my hand’ when you need assistance. I will be there to help you along the way. Most important, I will celebrate your learning just as Kristin celebrated for Sarah — I will applaud your learning and I will help you make your knowledge public for others. The spotlight is not for me this year: I will be here to guide you, but I want the spotlight to be on each of you and your learning. I want you to feel as proud of your bravery and growth as Sarah felt when she sang on that stage in front of all those people.”
I’m excited for my students this year to shine just as Sarah did.
This week, we’re featuring a wealth of resources on mentoring — from practical tips to essays that will tug on your heartstrings. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Here is a trio of essays from the Choice Literacy archives to help you think about mentoring.
Ellie Gilbert discovers making the shift from guiding teen students to mentoring new teachers is much more complicated and difficult than she expected in Making Assumptions:
In Mentoring from the Real to the Ideal: Mental Images of Teaching, Suzy Kaback shares a simple workshop activity to help new teachers build unique visions of their work:
Mentor Interviews: A Protocol of Questions is a tool to help mentors and mentees develop a stronger rapport:
Mark Medoff’s In Praise of Teachers was published nearly 30 years ago, but it remains one of the finest essays ever written about the enduring influence of teachers as mentors:
It’s all about routines early in the school year. But should it be? Ruth Ayres writes about how establishing routines early in the year at all costs can sometimes trip up teachers and students:
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Teachers and parents both struggle with boundaries for the web. In Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet, Julie Johnson provides helpful tips and a letter for parents:
Cathy Mere finds the early days of school are all about kidwatching and connecting with her first-grade students during reading and writing workshops. She shares some terrific guiding questions that might also help new teachers hone their observation skills:
Jeff Anderson launches a new monthly series on explanatory writing, a topic of high interest now to teachers because of the Common Core. This month’s topic is Finding the “Ex” Factor in Explanatory Writing:
A writing lead is a door — readers will either want to walk through it, or shut it and move on to something else. That’s the analogy Karen Terlecky uses in this week’s video of a fifth-grade writing workshop minilesson:
Looking for more resources on mentoring? Our New Teacher Mentors section of the website contains dozens of articles and videos:
That’s all for this week!