Friday, January 28, 2011

Dream a Little Dream...

I have to admit I'm hooked on reality television...well, not ALL reality television shows, just a couple of select ones. There are times when mindlessly staring at a screen offsets the intensity of the day. So stare I do.

Recently, I've been watching American Idol, a singing competition that highlights contestants who are singing in front of a team of judges. At this point in the season, the judges have the task of choosing which of the contestants are invited to continue in the competition, which ones will be allowed to travel to Hollywood and compete against others who are lucky enough to be invited, too.

What I've noticed during this particular season is that men, women, boys, and girls alike are crying crocodile tears, some begging, BEGGING, for the chance to make the Hollywood trip.

"Please. Puuhhhh-llllleasssseeee," they beg. "This is my DREEEAAAMMMMM. I've been dreaming to sing my entire LIFE!"

Interestingly, the minimum age limit has been reduced this year. Some of these dreamers have been dreaming for all of 15 years.

I continually talk to my students about dreams. I have all the staples of a middle school classroom: the future NFL and NBA stars, the rappers-to-be, the singers, dancers, and celebrities in the making.

I ask my NBA stars in training how many hours they practice every day, how long they dribble and pass after school. They grin and tell me they don't practice. Some aren't even on the middle school basketball team.

I continue by asking them if they think the NBA Fairy is going to show up on their porches, knock on their front doors, and then tap them with a wand. Poof - you're now a player in the NBA.

It's at this point that I draw my diagram on the board - my "Dream Alignment Diagram." First, I draw a big circle on the board, near the top. In the circle I write the word "DREAM." I tell the students, "This is it. Your dream. Whatever your dream's right here in this circle."

Then I draw arrows, beginning at the bottom of the board and pointing up toward the circle. I tell them that if they really want to reach their dreams everything they do must be pointing toward them. We discuss what those arrows represent: practice, work ethic, focus, etc.

Then I draw an arrow pointing straight to the side.

"Oh!" I say. "You don't want to do your work in school? You just took a detour away from your dream."

Then I reach to the other side and draw another horizontal arrow. "Think you need to get in a fight and end up in In School Suspension? There's another detour!"

I refer to the Dream Alignment Diagram periodically throughout the year, especially when it's apparent that my tweenagers need to focus. And I tell them that their dreams will not fall into their laps. Attaining them will take a great deal of work and an awful lot of time.

Dreams are not for the lazy. Dreams are not for the impatient.

And dreams are not for beggars.

They're for those who are committed to doing whatever it takes to make things happen.

And that means all their arrows point up. All the time.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cindi--This is a great way to make the point to kids. I had a student once who was actually on an episode of Dr. Phil, due to his constant misbehavior. He was convinced he was going to play for the NBA. In fact, he was sure they were going to draft him when he got to middle school (I had him as 4th grader). Needless to say, he was very short, and had no ability to control his temper, and did not have a good work ethic. Obviously, he was not in touch with reality, either...

Cindi Rigsbee said...

That's another part of our dream discussion! I tell my students that I'm not about to step on any dreams, but we have to be REALISTIC! Of course, I exaggerate - "If I'm two feet tall, I'm not gonna be playing in the NBA!" Sometimes they get it, and sometimes they don't. I always have struggling learners who aspire to be doctors and lawyers. I tell them it's not out of their reach, but they need to start NOW to get the grades they'll need for high school transcripts, college acceptance, and on to medical school or law school. I try to help them see the steps along the way that they like to skip when they "dream."

Katie Brotherton said...

This post makes me think about the TV show "Glee." I love this show, I really do, but my one major issue is that they never show the kids practice. There's no rehearsal, there's no learning the music, just show up to glee club after school and sing an amazing arrangement of some pop song. I have to remind my kids on a regular basis that rehearsal is a necessary part of choir, and in fact, a necessary part of life. Nothing helps them realize this better than recording them sing once they think they are "too good" to keep rehearsing. Once I play that recording back for them and make them evaluate what they hear, you better believe their attitudes begin to change.

Cindi Rigsbee said...

That's such a good point, Katie. You chorus teachers do such a good job that even those of us who are in the audience at the concerts forget about all the work that goes into a final product like that.

You reminded me of a story about my son. When he was about eight, we bought him a basketball goal. I told him to go outside and practice free throws. He said, "No, I just want to dunk it."

It's up to teachers (and parents) to instill the idea of the PROCESS into our kids.

Amanda said...

I think this is a great tactic to use with your students, especially their age group. We have to let our students know that they can achieve their dreams, but it doesn't just happen. They must be willing to work hard to achieve their dreams. They must be focused. I think that this is a great way to motivate your students and show them a visual representation they can go back to throughout the year.