On the Shoulders of Giants

This weekend we lost a giant.

In a moment where it’s easy to feel disappointed about the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the long term impacts this loss may have, I found hope where I usually do-from our students.

At the mention of the news, I immediately planned to work this weekend to begin this morning with a lesson on the basics-who she was and why she’s important. Until one of my students emailed me to ASK if we could make sure to include a lesson on her because she was a role model of hers.

You read that right. A student ASKED for a lesson.

Where this took a beautiful turn, as it usually does when you let kids lead, is I asked her if she’d be up for being the one to actually teach the lesson. I bet you think you know where this is going, a student asked to work on a lesson over the weekend? Not a chance, right? Wrong.

Immediate response of acceptance of the challenge. (Keep in mind, we’re still virtual.)

I’ve worked with this student for the past two years so her ask and response were not surprising. What was though was the kids’ reactions to her lesson this morning.

First, no one thought twice about her leading the lesson. It’s expected that our kids use their voices and share ideas. Not just once a year or for when it’s trendy, but always. Even in the tough moments.

Second, this student took it in a direction that I wouldn’t have even thought of. She led with an introductory question, shared slides/a presentation that she created time-lining the life of RBG and her accomplishments, and then concluded by asking her classmates to complete a written reflection of which of our Indi-ED pledge lines they thought tied most into who RBG was and how.

What a great idea! Bringing the relevancy of someone else’s life back to her “audience” (aka: her classmates).

Their responses were beautiful.

Some aligned her life and work modeling what it looks like to,

“…innovate to propose new ideas and to solve problems.”

“…to demonstrate integrity by choosing what is right even when it is difficult.”

And to, “… remember that everyone and everything is special and important.” 

We shared examples of what she worked to accomplish, we shared tears of appreciation and grief, and we shared feelings of fear knowing what could happen if someone was to step in in her place that could set our country back.

The fact that these kids understand and put into practice what our pledge lines mean makes me hopeful for the future. But for them to be able to see another example of what those look like when put into action by a positive leader, is priceless.

We’re in a tough spot right now.

But I for one am so thankful for giants like RBG who cleared more of the way for me. RBG’s passion was a reminder why I will continue to push for what is right for these future generations of giants.

Thank you for setting a beautiful foundation to stand on RBG. I and these kids won’t take it for granted.

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