1 - the magic of positive peer pressure
|Headed to the Boston Premiere!|
3 - the importance of belonging
4 - the honor behind a name
You've heard us wax poetic about the first three, so that means it's high time we give due diligence to #4.
There's just something about a name; they have an almost mystical power. To name a thing is to make it real, to lend it legitimacy. And, lame as this may sound, kids like names. The first two years of All In!, we were called all sorts of things. The Hunger Games club, The School-Wide Read, The Hobbit book club, that thing Ms. O'Leary and that other lady do after school. Then we picked a name. Whoo boy! Stand back!
That's right. Identify behaviors you like, slap a snazzy label on it, use it repeatedly, and watch it spread like wildfire. The kids used the name and it made us real. A sweet 7th grader passing her reaping whispered, "I got it? I'm All In?" An exuberant 6th grader shouted to the secretary, "Do you know what today is? Today is All In!"
Year three was the first year for another name as well. We're not quite sure where we heard the term "Three-Peat" first…most likely it was a sports reference and since the CRL are admitted word nerds, it's not surprising that it stuck.
Because our middle school consists of three grades and this was our third annual All In!, these eighth graders held a special place in our collective CRL heart. They had borne witness to literary shenanigans each and every year of their middle school careers and we were eager to discover just how many kids belonged to our trifecta. So one Saturday morning in January, we sat in front of three years' worth of reaping slips. We cross-referenced attendance sheets, checked names, and then checked again. As we wrote each name in a notebook, we could hardly contain our squees:
"Oh my gosh, he's one!"
Right in front of our eyes the list came together, and we were overwhelmed. It was not the first time we looked at each other and said, "We do good things."
|Our very first class of "Three-Peats"|
They were the ones who said "Yes" to reading THE HOBBIT in seventh grade.
And they were the ones who decided going All In! was cool enough for an eighth-grader.
Though 890 readers have followed, these kids were the very first to go All In! They were brave. They allowed themselves to get excited about a book. They loved out loud. They taught us more about what motivates children to read than our combined two decades in the classroom. And, at the risk of sounding overly emotional, they made us make sense.
|Love out loud. And on a bus.|
Now, how best to reveal the news? Let's think...
We love spectacle.
We love surprises.
We love honoring our kids.
We quickly decided that an assembly was the way to go. Balloons, posters, and flashy music aside, it was very important to us that those students receive recognition in front of the other participants. Bank on that positive peer pressure! We wanted the auditorium filled with students thinking, "I want to be up there next year."
And it worked.
After the assembly, Erin returned to her 7th-grade Wilson literacy class, which consists of children who require specialized instruction in reading and writing. As one young lady got up to retrieve her notebook she said, "I'm going to be a Three-Peat next year, which is so weird because I don't even like reading…"
March 18, 2014 was the US premiere of Divergent. Our generous principal paid for a coach bus to drive our cherubs into Boston to see the movie the night before the rest of America would be able to.
That magical night out was our way of thanking them. We sat there grinning like idiots, hearing nothing but adolescent giggles, incessant chatter, "Is this Boston?" inquiries, and shrieks of "There's a bathroom on the bus!" We live-Tweeted the affair and found it amusing that, due to the time difference, we were *technically* seeing the movie before Shailene Woodley and Theo James. Joined by several staff members and Three-Peat parents, our evening was as fabulous as the honorees themselves, and well worth the sleep-deprived haze we all experienced when we tried to function the next morning.
Standing at the helm of our swanky bus the night of the premiere, we took a moment with our DIVERGENT t-shirt-clad darlings. We would never have had the same success if not for our superlative eighth grade leaders. We got teary and admitted that teachers often have the same fears as students: What if this doesn't work? What if they don't like me? The energy and enthusiasm these kids brought made our jobs easy and ridiculously enjoyable. They made it worth every single second of confusion, panic, and late-night planning. Because they bought in, the rest of the school went All In! We were truly blessed with a phenomenal group of young people who trusted us and made this program exist.
Cheers to the Three-Peats.
We love you.