I have an amazing job. I get paid to teach people magic.
Here's a pic of me, teaching people magic.
Last week, I was super elated when a colleague/friend messaged me on Facebook to tell me she'd overheard a student talking about my class. Specifically, he was saying something about how unconventional my teaching methods are...and how much he appreciates that.
I've been with Tulsa Community College in one capacity or another for about seven years, and in that time, my experience as both a classroom instructor and an instructional specialist has affected me perhaps even more profoundly than my students at times. Never was this more true for me than when a former student, now a nurse, made special arrangements to gain entry to the O.R. where Lucy was delivered in April last year, holding my hand and offering support through what was for me a terrifying experience after nearly losing my life due to complications from Arthur's caesarean section in 2008, giving the comfort that only a woman can as I struggled to overcome an embarrassing anxiety attack.
This is what I do this for, I remind myself now as I stand before each classroom.
I've always known there is a magic to language, and that magic, like the wands at Hogwarts, is infused with power.
Language can be almost telepathic.
Language can save lives.
Language can destroy and build and tear down walls.
To harness this power is a gift.
I try to remind my students of this as often as I can. Few things give me the twitches more than teachers who don't relate what the students are learning to the journey that lies ahead of them...the whole cocoon metamorphosis thing. But thinking of Wendi, my former student-nurse, I can't let go of that image.
That's why when I first stumbled upon Hannah Brencher's beautiful concept for filling the world with random spontaneous acts of kindness in the form of that magic at her site The World Needs More Love Letters, I was enchanted with the idea. She encourages people to write letters to strangers, sending their positive energy out into the universe.
Magic. Beautiful, linguistic magic.
I knew immediately this was going to happen in my classroom. It had to. It was so in line with my teaching.
I knew my students were up to the challenge. After all, they do stuff like this:
(that's me in the pink shawl)
This was their assignment:
And here's what happened.
(That's me in the pink hair there holding the sign. I promise we were all really having a good time...it was just like the fifth camera take!)
Altogether, we put out about 50 random letters all over campus and a few off-campus.
For many students, the experience was not just a way of connecting with others, but reflecting on their own experiences, their own fears and accomplishments.
In a way, they were encouraging themselves.
The best part? I have run into a few people who told me how they came across random letters of encouragement on campus. The library staff came across one and taped it up on the reference desk. And I even found one in a book just a few days ago. Students are reading them and then moving them for others to see! How amazing is that?
So what are you waiting for? Go write a love letter!!!
(a very, very special thank you to my students for participating in this project and letting me post about it. You are all a.ma.zing. You are the reason I do what I do).