It's the March Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!
I saw this posted on Facebook the other day, and I saved it, knowing it would have to become a Slice of Life. Make sure you watch all the way through because the very beginning will be repeated in slow-motion.
There are so many things I love about this video. Yes, Olly is the star, but the announcer is, too. The obvious joy and and humor he displays throughout the announcing warms my heart. He loves that dog. He loves the enthusiasm and complete abandon this sweet, crazy Jack Russell displays. He chuckles, celebrates, and enjoys the show. Let's just take a look at this in a close-up photo:
The announcer says gleefully, "What a nosedive! And he couldn't care less!"
Read NPR article here.
Now, understand something about me...I HATE "America's Funniest Home Videos" because oftentimes, they show people doing dumb things and getting hurt. I don't think people having accidents and hurting themselves is funny (well, usually - there are a couple incidents that later became funny stories, but that's different). My reaction is usually a wince and a sigh - not hysterical laughter. And maybe I judge a bit because what they did was incredibly stupid, and I don't think that's entertaining. However, this one I LOVE because that dog didn't even blink. He just gets right up and keeps going with complete and utter joy. He LOVES what he does. He takes on the biggest, craziest challenges - way bigger than he is, meets them head-on, and when he blows it, well, that's ok. He gets up and takes on the next challenge. And everyone loves him for it. (Except maybe his trainer - poor thing - she needs meditation and a good massage after all that because I'm sure every muscle hurts after chasing after him.) I just love that dog. I want to BE that dog. Well, not really - but you know what I mean.
Of course, I can't help but apply this to education (and to life in general, of course, but I'm going to stick with education for now). We are WAY too boxed in to traditional methods of teaching, assessing, and learning. I'm including myself, understand. I got together with a colleague who teaches in a nearby district on Monday at Panera's (there's something about that place that seems to encourage creativity - like Starbucks!), and we talked about all these innovative things she was planning in her gifted classroom next year. She had won an "innovative teaching/classroom environment" grant (or something like that), and she was so excited about how she was going to change her classroom space and include a lot of choice and student-led learning (she already incorporates a lot of that, but this grant will result in even more). We talked and talked, both of us excited, and all of the sudden, two hours had passed. It was wonderful to spend time with someone who was so willing to take risks, see revolutionary teaching opportunities, and brainstorm ideas. I know there are tests looming on the horizon, and we're teaching kids how to write informative/explanatory/argument essays, and looking at the sample questions to figure out test-taking strategies, and putting kids into traditional desks, chairs, and classrooms, but it was so wonderful to think outside the box for two hours. I try a lot of new things, but I need to do more. I want to find new and better ways to teach kids. I know I have changes I could make. And if some of the ideas end up nosediving? At least they were implemented with enthusiasm!
I've made my share of mistakes. I've walked into closets at the end of interviews (that could be a Slice of Life!), had the laptop die in the middle of a high-stakes presentation (I wrote about that this month), and forgotten my dongle (that's just funny) at an NCTE panel with rock-star authors (I was the chair - another Slice I should write), and I've tried to laugh it off and get right back up. I've taken on big projects and made significant life changes pretty quickly. But I need to do more. I need to be more like Olly, who reminds me of Thoreau's goal in life: to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life". My students deserve a teacher who does that.