Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.
My colleague Jeff was
worried. We were both professors at a large state university, working with
juniors and seniors in literacy methods courses. One of his students, Amanda,
had recently lost her mother to cancer, and now she'd missed the last two classes in
his secondary English methods class. He'd called her repeatedly and talked with
her roommate but couldn't reach Amanda. Finally the roommate told him Amanda
was at soccer practice and would be there for another hour. Jeff hung up the phone (because this was back
in the days when phones had cords and you actually hung them up), put on his
jacket, and walked 10 minutes across campus to the sports fields, where he found Amanda and told her
he was worried about her. She cried a little, promised to come to the next
class, and didn't skip class again for the rest of the semester.
When Jeff told me this story,
I was astonished. I rarely called students when they missed class, and certainly
never visited them personally at a sports practice. We talk a lot about doing
"extra" as educators, but Jeff made me realize that the unexpected is what has the
biggest impact. Og Mandino once wrote, "The only
certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected
of you, no matter what your task may be." Joe Clark explains the way "more and better"
works for administrators: "People expect school administrators to be at the
Friday night football game. They don't expect them to bring Popsicles to band
camp. Or go to the bowling team's match or the Mock Trial team's performance." We do a lot of the "extra," but maybe we need
more of the unexpected. Most of us don't have more to give. Maybe it's a matter
of surprising people with the unexpected in a way that truly
makes them rethink their relationship with us, and our commitment to their work.
This week we look at finding writing topics. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Join Franki Sibberson for The Tech-Savvy Literacy Teacheronline courseOctober 1-12. The class includes three on-demand webinars, the Right Book at the Right Time DVD, Franki's book The Joy of Planning,
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