Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SoLSC Creating lifelong life skills 1.20.15


Slice of Life is a weekly event hosted by Two Writing Teachers.

Genius Hour.  Passion Projects.  Classrooms all over have started implementing this time to allow students to pursue their interests, to learn more about their passions.  After the research, students present their findings to others.  Now, imagine.  Let's say a student is very excited about his project.  It's something he's been working on for awhile.  He's put the proverbial blood, sweat and tears into this project.  It's his baby and he's proud of it.  Now it's time to show others.  He's got everything he's worked on and produced it into a book.  He explains to his audience a little snippet about what he's worked on.  He pulls out his book to share.  And his audience shrugs, and tells him, it's not something they are really interested in.

Bubble popped.

There is so much we teach students.  We help support them in their work and learning.  But we also teach students how to be good listeners.  How to be supportive.  How to give positive feedback.  How to be a supportive audience.  Even when the topic is not our favorite.

But how do we ensure that these lessons continue into adulthood?  How do we make sure our students become good listeners - to listen and be positive even when it's something that doesn't interest us?

Because the scenario that I presented, actually happened to my dad this weekend.  My dad has recently entered into the world of retirement.  But he doesn't know what to do with himself.  He's worked most of his days and evenings and into the nights for my entire life. Time to relax and slow down is a foreign idea for him.  He knew this day would come and he's prepared himself for this and had started his own passion project in advance.  Now, he's seen his efforts come into fruition.  He's always been a huge crossword puzzle fan.  But he doesn't stop at your standard puzzle, he's gotten into all of these different kinds of crosswords.  So, what did he do?  Combine his passion and his knowledge of business and make a new kind of crossword book - diagramless puzzles.  I have never been a words person and this type of puzzle is crazy hard for me.   But I enjoy talking to him about this project because he lights up and has this energy when he shares it.  However, this weekend he was sharing his book and what he did with another couple.  Neither person even looked at the book when he shared it.  The man just said, "I'm not a puzzle person."  No questions were asked.  Conversation shut down.  It's happened in other conversations he's had too.  So, I get it.  I'm not a "puzzle person" either.  But I know how to be polite.  I can tell when someone is interested in sharing what they are doing and when I'm talking to them, I know how to listen, ask the right questions and let the person share their thoughts.  It's what we try and get our students do.  How is it that adults have forgotten to be polite?  When did they forget how to listen?  Ask questions?

I hope our students are holding on to what we practice.  I hope they are internalizing these lessons and will recall them as they continue to grow.  

There's more to teaching than what is written in the common core or any other standards.  We're also in the business making sure that our kids have compassion and empathy.  And that's a lifeskill everyone needs.

Are you someone that enjoys crossword puzzles or know someone that is?  You can take a look at the ones my dad put together here and here.  He's thinking about making some for kids that would go with science and social studies units.  I'm glad he's continuing his passion.


  1. I'm so sorry that this happened to your dad. How rude those others were to not even ask questions & celebrate his accomplishment. I found that adults are all different in their ability to respond during my tough time with my husband, Michele. Some disappeared, some never wanted to listen. Tell your dad to look for a puzzle club. They'll be interested! Love this "We're also in the business making sure that our kids have compassion and empathy." So true!

  2. Love the connections you made to our teaching lives, Michelle. How appallingly rude, however. I like Linda's suggestion - I'm sure your dad will have a much better experience with people who share his interests...and who know not to be rude.

  3. I would hope that teaching our students to listen and be kind will go into adulthood. When I think about my education as a child, I don't remember being taught these things. So I can imagine that even an older generation would be the same way. When I think about all the books we share about this same topic, I don't remember getting that as a child. Hopefully what we are doing will have remain with them. We can only hope! I think it is really cool what your dad has done, but I am a puzzle person! :)

  4. His puzzles look crazy hard! I can't decide if I should try one or if it will be the ultimate in frustration for me!!

    I'm sorry people are being rude. What has happened to good, ole fashioned conversation skills??! Phooey on those people.

    I think it's fascinating what your dad did, for what it's worth!

  5. I love what you are able to do with your students in your classroom, Michele. Too many teachers are way too focused on THE TEST!!!! and the prep seems to be making things worse. As someone out of my own classroom, I'm glad your dad is building on his passions and with some good solid energy he will find his audience. There's a lot of crossword fans out there, even if I could never be in his club.