Building and Anchoring Resilience

Our new principal is bringing a fresh outlook and approach to our teaching and learning. While every change in administration does this for a school, we are filled with hope that things will be even better as we move forward and that we will “fit in.”

Today our principal shared something from her meeting yesterday with other administrators from the district. It is a different angle from what we have seen in the past.  She is  the product of single parent upbringing and has a unique (at least to my current way of thinking) perspective on student lives.

I find it quite interesting how reading something can take us down a wide range of paths. Which we choose to explore becomes our own learning journey. Students make personal connections (at least when the Common Core allows them to) and those connections anchor their thinking and learning in stronger ways. But I digress…

So when the principal shared an article, an interview with Maya Angelou, I searched for one of the references Dr. Angelou presented. It is a piece of art by way of poem/music written by James Weldon Johnson and at one time was even known as the Negro National Anthem. Take a look at the lyrics and maybe  listen to the link while you read them. It is a message of resilience, perseverance, and hope.

In order for me to frame this learning, I needed to read the interview and make meaning from Dr. Angelou’s message which primarily addresses the plight of people who are alienated and mistreated, as is the case with slavery and descendants of slaves. Music was a good vehicle for me in anchoring this message.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.”

Here’s a question from the interview that echos the same message I received in, of all places, a math MOOC I participated in this summer. That message is a can-do, growth mindset message.

You’ve lived in several places around the world. Do you think resilience is universal. or does it vary among cultures?”

“If children are given the chance to believe they’re worth something – if they truly believe that – they will insist upon it.”

I am looking to anchor this message more firmly in my own practice as an educator. The students are bundles of potential energy and I need to support them as they maintain a positive charge and activate their learning successfully.


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