I just finished reading an article about the experience of a homeless teen revealing his predicament to his teacher and his class. In the context of a project called StoryCorpU, this young man decided to take the huge leap to sharing his situation in a scenario in which he had previously been ridiculed and, at times, and even bullied.
What spoke to me most profoundly was the idea that a difficult situation can be transformed with real intention and active strategizing. This program developed by NPR, the teacher's willingness and action in working past her own discomfort, and a classroom forum where honesty is rewarded. Now, there's nothing to say that this all works out with a fairy tale ending. But the real telling moment is this quote from teacher Celeste Davis-Carr:
"I want to see you happy... Just your smile is the best moments of you."
The idea isn't that we have all the answers or that we will all magically create the projects that draw out our communal truths in one big dam-breaking moment. But, we can make a practice of recognizing teachable moments and diligently searching out initiatives and activities that will tap into undiscovered potential. Remembering this, I think, makes us all better educators and allows our young people opportunities to be their best selves.
Check out the article and listen to the student recording:
A Homeless Teen Finds Solace In A Teacher And A Recording