Today was presentation day! The assignment was for students to create a visual and a speech that could be chosen to be presented at our school’s Veteran’s Day Choir Concert. Despite computer problems throughout the creation process, the first round has been awesome. One student chose to honor our veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan after reading Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers:
As is always the case on the due date of an essay or project, several students swarmed me as if I was wearing dog biscuit clothes, and they were a pack of puppies. One had to meet his mom at the office because he forgot his flash drive at home and she was bringing it in. One had trouble emailing it to herself. One girl’s computer crashed last night leaving her unable to complete the project, and one young man had Internet trouble. Whatever happened to, “My dog ate my homework, or my brother lit it on fire in the garage?”
After 23 years of teaching, I am prepared for the onslaught of questions and excuses. Furthermore, I truly understand the computer problems since I have encountered all of them myself. I assuaged the fear of losing points and assured them that we would get through this together. True, one or two kids may have been lazy or procrastinated too long, and this behavior will catch up to them eventually. After all, I do have to move on with our next assignment on Monday.
Whenever one of the kids encountered a problem, several kids offered good solutions. These kids were earning participation points because they were being problem solvers. I saw teamwork like the kind our soldiers demonstrate. The students were watching, listening, helping, and learning. I believe a few kids are spending tonight redoing their projects because they want them to be better. Competition can be good. This is good for business. The best products or services get the business.
Nonetheless, school is not a business. This assignment is not completely about the final project. Yes, the best presentation becomes part of the choir concert. However, all of the kids enjoy the opportunity to learn, to be creative, and to assist classmates. This is what makes a school a little different from a business. The school’s product is learning.