“I want to share a story with you”, this is how I started the first class, of 25 classes that would be entering the lab for the first time on this first week of school. This was not at all how I had planned to start off the year. Amongst my goals for this year is to talk less, for the learning to be more personally meaningful, passion based and student led. So when I started thinking about what the first day would look like in the lab, the last thing I expected to be doing was telling a story.
I had been wrestling with the idea of not having a typical first day, going over rules and procedure. Why would I want the first day in the lab to be the most boring day of the school year? (A question brought up by David Geurin in this blog post which in part led me to this story) I want the students to actually be excited about coming to the lab, however, I like my students to know right off the bat my expectation. Since I have only the most basic of rules in my lab and I know that most of my students know them from 1st grade on up, I was going have the students play a Kahoot. The Kahoot would cover the norms and some computer science terms. For the younger grades this would be more of a Blind Kahoot, for my older students a review. So the last thing I wanted to do was to stand in front of the class and talk about the norms. My idea was that I would make a quick animation, music video, rewriting the lyrics to Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling. I knew my kiddos probably already knew the song and loved it! It was one of the bigger hits of the summer. I couldn’t go wrong or so I thought!
Well a quick animation was not what it turned into. The animating was no problem, I used a wonderful site, Animatron, and it went quickly. Here is a quick preview.
The challenge came when I went to sing my wonderful lyrics. That is when I realized two things, Justin Timberlake is much more talented then I ever gave him credit for and sadly I am obviously tone deaf! Not to be stopped, I persist through all of Labor Day weekend trying my best to record this song and have it be some what listenable! Monday night is when I sadly came to the conclusion that this could in no shape or form be usable. I knew my students would be too distract by my voice to be able to really hear the words. I had resigned myself to just play the Kahoot. My video was an epic fail!
So as that first class came in, and I apologetically started to explain that todays lesson was not what I originally wanted. I started to tell them I had made a mistake. I had not listened to the music teacher when he explained that the song I had chosen was technically difficult song to sing for even some one who had singing talent (which I had woefully discovered I was not one of those folks) and that perhaps I should choose an easier option. I had not planned or thought out my project well enough to give myself time to ask for help. I told them I had try my best, and that best does not mean perfect and that everyones best is different. The students had many questions and the discussion was lively. They were intrigued by the process and the obstacles I faced. As we talked it occurred to me that all of my Norms where coming up in the conversation, in fact the students where bring them up, this discussion was being led by the students. This is when I realized that all though my lesson was not what I had planned it was better! My students had the chance to see that we all make mistakes,even their teacher. We all struggle and that’s ok. Persistence came up more then a few times. We even had a chance to dive deep into what a Growth Mindset was. My epic fail was turning out to be a win!
In case you are curious, I did in the end, share my video with my students. I believe I gained a deeper connection with my students by doing so. I built trust with them, I was hiding nothing, not even my tone deaf edition of a great song, which when I was done singing it was no longer so great. The only thing that would have made this whole experience go from a win, to an epic win, would have been if Justin Timberlake had answered my desperate tweet and Facebook post, begging for help in the 11th hour! By the way Justin, I am still open to you recording my lyrics and remixing my video!