All week I've been meeting with students, helping them brainstorm, problem-solve, and plan. It's been exhausting for a few reasons. First--more students than usual still don't have project topics or ideas. However, this doesn't surprise me. This year has been a challenging year due to the group of students I have. I have several high-needs students who come to my class with lots of baggage. For a few, attendance is sometimes poor. It's been tedious work to inspire these kids to do this project, and I've had to get very creative (many of these students haven't completed too many assignments for my class or their other classes this year). Secondly, I've met resistance from a few colleagues regarding this project. Of course this resistance has never been directed to me, but has instead come in the form of snarky comments, eye rolls, and shoulder shrugs towards the kids' projects. I feel like apathy is the worst form of resistance because I just don't know how to address it. Yesterday I reached a breaking point when I found out another teacher in my building posted a rude comment on someone's Facebook regarding the legitimacy of this unit (just another reason why my life is Facebook free at the moment...). Of course I was pissed, but more than that---I just was awestruck that this teacher can't see the benefits of this project. This unit aligns with more of the state Language Arts standards than most of the other units we teach; it's grounded in sound research (so far I have 20 pages of my thesis and a shelf full of books to prove it); students are learning valuable skills that will transfer beyond the classroom, etc. etc. As I packed up to leave my classroom yesterday, my mind was spinning with thoughts. I passed by poster above of quotes hanging in the front of my room, and I keyed in on one that I've used as a journal prompt and point of discussion with my students:
"The first resistance to social change is to say it's not necessary." --Gloria Steinem
This project IS necessary for so many reasons. I won't convince all of my students, all of the parents, or all of my colleagues of its importance. But after four years of research, I'm convinced this project is good for kids---so in the words of Joe Dirt, I'll keep on keepin' on doing what's best for kids.