Friday, November 20, 2015

Year 6: Week 12 – Seeking Shelter From The Storm At Taft

Click here for a link to last year’s post about Taft that has links to previous posts about this trip.

Right on cue, the rain started to come down.

We were planning on going on a hike in the evening but we knew a storm was coming. Rain, we could handle, but lightning and thunder and sideways rain was a whole different deal. Around lunchtime we made the call to stay inside that evening and figured out a plan for the evening.

Half the kids (about 30 kids) were working with in one space and half the students were in another building.

As we finished up our time, the rain really started to come down. The other groups weren’t there yet, and my kids were starting to focus on the storm and the lightning. So I thought, “what would Bruce Springsteen do?”

When I saw Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field a couple years ago, it started rain and the way that he got his audience through that moment was by standing strong in the rain, not ignoring the storm but rather embracing it leading the stadium in singing “Who’ll Stop The Rain.”

After a couple quick searches on my iPhone to get some lyrics down, I placed a chair down at the end of the room, gathered the kids around me and asked them to repeat after me “yeah, I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain?” And then I started playing my guitar and I began to sing. Every time I we got to the end of the verse I reached out and I heard my students reply “yeah, I wonder. . . ”

We sang a couple more songs and as I noticed that the art group was joining us, I started “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” again and finally for the first time this year, we sang together as a whole class.

Every class I teach has a group vibe, a group energy that doesn't really reflect individual behavior, intelligence, or kindness.  It's just that magic something that makes a group click.  This year's 5th grade has a harder time clicking as a large group.  I've known this ever since I had them as 3rd graders.  I value all these students as individuals but when then are working in larger groups, they can be really challenging.  Classroom teachers don't really have to consider how they work as a group of 60, but as music teacher, I do.

This moment when I heard them all sing together "yeah, I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?" was really important for me.  When you work for a group of students, sometimes you forget the magic of how amazing students can be.  This trip was a great opportunity to think more clearly of my students as individuals and not as a challenging larger group.  It was great to remind myself of that and then to hear their voice singing out to me in a beautiful unison was inspiring.

Yes, I was exhausted after the trip, but I was more excited to get back to working with my 5th graders in the classroom the following week than I've felt all year.  We got a lot of work to do with my 5th graders, but I know we again share a feeling of being together, seeking shelter from a storm.

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