Thursday, September 25, 2008


Yeah, yeah, I know. Shut up Sheree. We are tired of hearing about it all. ME TOO!!! I HEAR YOU!!!! However, I just had to say one more thing. I rarely talk about teaching at my current job. My silence is on purpose. However, I just have to yell, scream, and shout today. For those of you who don’t know, I work with kids who are very rough around the edges. They don’t really have anything. Their academic skills are nil to none. Their life events are something I really don’t want to mention.
So here I have stood for 15 years. Oh yeah. They call me every name in the book. It is nasty. It is vulgar. It is a situation most people cannot imagine. Yet, I have hung in there. Maybe I am stupid. LOL However, there is just SOMETHING that has made me stay.
I am still looking for another job. Oh yes! I dream of the day I can have a conversation/dialog about art. Oh my goodness, I dream. While I am waiting for that opportunity, I have to make do. I have to use my time wisely. Thus, I present my current student's rap video endeavor. I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of my students. They are tough. There is a good side though. You just have to dig for it.
In order to engage these kids, you have to meet them in the middle. You have to speak their language. You have to have a sense of humor. You have to see the BIG picture. Well, for the last six weeks, I did all that. We made a rap video. These kids didn’t know what Moviemaker was 19 hours ago. Yet, they made their own rap video. They would run to my class. They came on their lunch hour. They wanted to work.
Well, they did work. They created something. I can’t show it here due to confidentiality, but I will be a witness. They created a totally lame, but funny rap video. It is tremendous. They came to school. They wanted to learn. They LEARNED how to do this in less than 19 hours! They learned how to organize, work together, collaborate, write a song, type the song using WORD, conduct a business meeting, be on camera, create a story (beginning, middle, end), learned how to use Moviemaker with a storyboard, effects, and transitions. So the REVELATION is this: The age or level of my students is really not the issue. What I seek is the feeling of progress. I want to feel and know my students (and ME) are accomplishing something. This is why I seek a college level job. I want to be able to discuss, have a dialog, and see products. Even though this is a rare occurrence where I am at now, it happened this past few weeks. I am so proud of my students.
I can’t say anything more than “IT'S ALL GOOD!

I had to fuzz out the faces due to confidentiality. However, this is a great example of how kids want to learn. YES. I know it is improbable they will become rap stars.
That is OK though. They have learned a bunch of other skills that can be applied to life. This is a really good thing! They have accomplished this. For them, this is nearly a miracle.


Eero said...

I've always thought, just from sensing the energy and passion in your writing, that you are probably a pretty damned amazing teacher.

Good on you for engaging those kids.

And good luck on your job hunt! Onwards and upwards!

Sheree Rensel said...

Thank you so much for noticing and commenting. It is so funny though. I NEVER set out to be a great teacher. I am though. It has been proven over and over. I don't know exactly why I have had success in this way. I never intended for this to happen. However, no matter how I feel about other things in my life, the one sure thing is I know I can teach very well. I wish I could package the ingredients that makes a great teacher. If I could, I would bottle it and make a million.
Thanks again!

Sheree Rensel said...

Eero? You live in Alaska??? Oh my goodness! That takes some gumption! This morning our temperature was 68 degrees and I turned the heat on in the car!! We Floridians are a bunch of pansies!!! LOL LOL

RJ said...

Hi Sheree--

That is so cool! I wish I could see the video that the kids made. You are truly making a difference in these young people's lives!

BTW, I have not made a post on my blog in about a month, but I decided to start a game called Art or Non-art? I invite you and anyone else who is interested to stop by and play. It's kinda for fun, but kinda serious at the same time.

I admire your energy and perseverance!



Sheree Rensel said...

Rick, As a teacher, you probably realize this project was about so much more than making a rap video. As Dr. Randy Pausch would call it, it was a "head fake". I wanted them to learn about using the computer and creating a product. One really cool thing was we had a "Wrap Party" on Friday. The principal invited a local rap artist to come to my art room. The kids jaws dropped when this guy came in with all his bling! He gave them a good talk and told them to come up with another rap so when he comes to play at the school, they can come up and rap with him on stage. They were so awe struck. One thing for sure, they will remember this for a long time.
I will check out your "Art or Non-Art" game. I have been so busy, I haven't had time to read blogs. I will get over to yours soon.
Thanks for the comment!