- Boundary Markers: An Alternative to Classroom Management - March 10, 2016
- International Mother Language Day-February 21st - February 25, 2016
- "Dear Future Me..."A Great Reflection Assignment for Students - February 1, 2016
- Thank You In Advance: The Power of Expectation - January 15, 2016
- Under the Guise of Inclusion - November 20, 2015
- Therapy Dogs and Schools - October 15, 2015
- SUPERPOWER Schools - October 13, 2015
- When Life Happens While You Teach - September 22, 2015
- "I'm Her Favorite Student!" - August 31, 2015
- Good Writing vs. Great Writing: Leading the Way - April 27, 2015
I recently watched a segment on "Sixty Minutes" that featured an orchestra from Cateura, Paraguay, whose instruments were made entirely of discarded objects found in the local landfill...trash! The orchestra known as "The Landfill Harmonic," or "Los Reciclados," was created by Favio Chaevez and Nicolaes Goemez, and consists of a dozen or more children that make up the orchestra. I was completely amazed at how a little ingenuity and two amazing men with an authentic, artistic vision, transformed the lives of these students. As one girl named Ada Mariblel Rios Bordados, who was taught to play a violin made from a tin sign said, "When I listen to the sound of a violin, I get butterflies in my stomach; its a feeling I don't know how to explain...when I play I am transformed into another world.
My daughter is an art teacher at a military base middle school, and I find her work so interestingly different from mine. Yet so much of what she does is the same as her English teacher mother. We both try to tap into our students' lives and find their passions...and hope along the way to gather a little creative ingenuity that might be hiding in the corners of their intellect. She, like me, struggles with the child that "just doesn't want to be there," and it is a struggle for sure, but she never stops attempting to help each of her students find the "artist within."
I have to ask myself as an educator: could I think outside the box in the same way that these marvelous people/educators did? Teachers in the United States often feel frustrated due to budget cuts (especially for what are not considered "core" classes). How many teachers use their own salaries to purchase classroom materials (nearly all of us)? Yet, somehow we find ways to reach out to our students...perhaps we actually do think outside the box a bit more than we think we do.
Do I think I am as marvelous as these two fine gentlemen that took garbage and changed people's lives? Certainly not. But much like you, when I use my own ingenuity along with a few supplies that are dwindling fast, I think we can still manage to grow young minds that excel on ACT's and get into the finest colleges.
Thank you, Mr. Chaevez and Mr. Goemez. You have shown us that even when we work under the worst of circumstances, we can take something like garbage and change a life. Hats off to you gentlemen!