"Why should I do this? He's not even gonna be our teacher next year!" Yeah. And I'm not getting paid to post this on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we do stuff just because it's a good idea.
Before you read the idea below, here's a conversation between an Imaginary Student (IM) and me. Obviously, the IM is a stereotype, and clearly nothing like the happy, energized, diligent, ferocious, successful thinkers in our class. Still. Read on.
Me: Please complete the following exercise by midnight on New Year's Eve. It's better than making all those resolutions you're not going to keep, it will give you a new way to visualize ideas, and it will even help you brainstorm for when you start writing your Personal Statement for college applications.
IM: (Nodding, says out loud) "Sure. Will do." (Thinks: No way. It's my break. I want to chill. Maybe watch Netflix. Play Fortnite. Stare at a wall. Pretty much anything except schoolwork.)
Me: I'm listening to what you're thinking, and I'm hearing a need for rest. Am I getting that right?
IM: (Shocked.) Yeah.
Me: What exactly are you taking a break from?
IM: It's just all this work, you know, doing the journals every day, doing the blog, math, science, history... yeah.
Me: You know I love it when people end sentences that way.
IM: Um... yeah.
Me: Seriously, I'm curious: What does it do for you to take a break? Does it make you feel better? Do you use the time to meditate, or set a goal or an intention to come back strong? Are you feeling a need to take a break from all that work because it feels like it's never enough? Like, somehow, you're never enough?
IM: I'ma [sic] tell you the truth. All this work sucks and I don't like getting judged. Teachers just think bad [sic] of me.
Me: Well, I don't, but I definitely hear you. What if you could get some feedback about your best self? What if the only comments you got over break were about your strengths and your victories?
Me: Really? I thought you wanted to feel like a success for a change.
IM: That's true. I do.
Me: And getting positive feedback from people is a part of that?
Me: So if I can guarantee that's what you'll get, and I guarantee that you'll feel better once you do this, are you in?
IM: I don't see how you can guarantee me anything, but whatever. Yeah. Sure. Fine. If you can guarantee me all that, I'm in.
Me: Alright. It's a lock. Here's what you do.
1. Email at least 10 people you know. (Note: It's important to do this in writing. You can do this in Spanish, English, or whatever language your correspondents prefer.
In case you need a suggestion for how to word your email:
I’m doing a writing project and I’d like to ask your help. Can you think of a time when I was at my best? If you can remember, can you please write me a quick story about it and describe a couple things about me that you think of as strengths or good qualities? Just a few sentences will do, I really appreciate it!
Thanks and Happy Holidays,
Also: if you are connecting with someone who doesn’t use email, feel free to text and then retype their answer into the document you use for your word cloud. You can also talk with a person and write / type what they say.
2. Ask them to describe a time you were successful and/or did something wonderful.
3. Copy and paste each response into a single word document. (If the emails are in more than one language, you can use an online translator like use Google translate or https://www.spanishdict.com/ to create a document with all the words in one language. If you want, you can even do one version in English & one in Spanish.)
4. Copy the entire text from the document (all the email responses together) onto your clipboard.
5. Go to https://www.wordclouds.com/ and create a word cloud. When you get to the website, click on Wizard-- it will tell you exactly what to do. Basically, you're going to paste the document into the window on their website and it will generate something that looks like this:
6. As you can see, the word cloud creates a visual representation of which words appear most frequently in the text. "Mead" is big because it shows up most often. You may see some interesting patterns about you when you do this. Once you have created your word cloud, take a screen shot of it.
7. Create a post for your blog in which you:
- Describe what you did (steps 1-6)
- Describe the top 3-5 strengths that your tribe reflected to you
- Embed the word web