For Thursday, October 20, 2011
The room, now set up, had desks facing the blank white wall along the right side of my classroom. The curtains were drawn, the lights were off, and one by one, students went to the projector to hook up their laptops. Within seconds, personal pictures projected onto the wall and the students recorded narratives began to fill the room.
One story spoke of a young man’s love of skiing. Two girls discussed the life impact that playing softball had made. One girl shared her experiences as a “military brat”, traveling from place to place in her young life, and another brought our attention to the powerful way a young man’s faith and friendships were strengthened through attendance at a Christian camp. One young woman spoke of being deeply touched by how her family had displayed their love for her by attending her sweet sixteenth birthday party. There were stories of football, soccer, stuffed animals, an inspiring celebrity meeting, friendships, and one young person’s undying and eventually successful attempt to convince her parents to get her a dog.
As the class came to an end, I decided to share my own digital story, a memoir piece I had crafted about my Mom. I had already shared one story with my students, a piece I had written that was personal but which had used only stock photographs. This memoir was different as it included personal pictures of my Mom and I that had been taken over the years. The students delighted in seeing pictures of me as a child and as a teen and they laughed when in my narrative I shared stories of the silly times I’d experienced with my Mom.
As I sat and listened to each memoir this week and watched the pictures flash onto the wall I took that time to catch my breath. I thought of how quickly paced our lives can be and how if we are not careful, days, weeks, months, even years can fly by without our taking time to stop and to reflect on the meaning and importance of our life experiences. Seeing this class of 16 or 17 year olds doing just that in the making of these projects makes me feel proud. It is a worthwhile assignment and one I hope to continue doing for years to come.
I hope my students will continue to be as insightful and thoughtful as these stories displayed them to be. I don’t think I need to worry. This group of young people respects the lives they have been given. They take to heart the people who have helped them achieve wondrous things in their brief time here. These teens are intelligent, caring, passionate, fun, inspired, and inspiring. I am lucky to have another eight months to work with them. I am humbled by the truth that they will surely teach me just as much as I may try to teach them.