January 29, 2016

Biggest Crime

“Don't you guys love this?”

They nod with a hint of uncertainty.

“Aren’t you having fun? I can’t imagine doing anything more interesting on a Friday morning.”

They look at me like I’m either crazy.

“Siting with a group of people and breaking apart and analyzing literature is the number one thing I would choose to do if given a chance, and we get to do that together everyday. Anyway, just wanted you to know how much I love the work we do everyday. Hopefully you are loving it too. Now let’s get back to how we can add layers of complexity to our exploration of theme.

That was an intense Friday. I taught four classes in a row, hung out with some teachers and their kids, at a movie night for kids social afters school, and then attended and performed at Gecko Night from six to eight thirty.

Gecko Night is an annual event run by Paula​’s Global Concern Group. It raises awareness and money for The Green Gecko Project, which helps an NGO in Cambodia to help street kids have a loving home and a basic education. Every year, I perform one song and help sell tickets.

We had a great crowd tonight, but what really blew me away was the talent pool of the performers. These kids were amazing. I was almost in tears as I watched some of my awkward insecure kids by day, belt out song after song with their intensely beautiful voices. Made me realise how important it is to have these events and allow students showcase their passions and talents.

One of the biggest crimes a school can commit is under estimating its students. I am always blown away by what young people can do when given love, support and a venue to shine.

I performed an “old man” song that I have loved since I was in middle school- The Times Are  A Changin’ by Bob Dylan. I gave a quick speech about the power of service and activism and how there is a whole body of music called protest music and how they should know it and learn it and help make sure it stays alive. Because music is a great way to fight for what we believe in and bring about change.

Felt good being up on the stage tonight. I felt calm, sounded okay and only lost my places and the chords toward the last verse. I think it’s important to take risks and be imperfect in front of kids. They need to see that singing up on a stage need not only be   reserved for “good” musicians. If you want to sing, sing out.

Currently I am listening to Dylan, drinking a glass of cheap red wine, and looking forward to watching Top Chef, Portlandia and a good night sleep.

These longs days feel good when you love what you do. No one said that the work we do to change kids’ lives is easy, but they also don’t tell you how much fun it can be.

Time to rest up this weekend. Another crazy week up ahead and then off to Kenya.

Lessons Learned:

  • Always remind kids that you love what you do if you want them to love it. 
  • Take risks in front of kids by doing what you ask them to. 

  1. What do you love to do and would do everyday if you had a choice? 
  2. When and where do you take risks and make yourself vulnerable? 


  1. Thanks for sharing this. A part of that crime you mention is when we steal time from students. Building trust means allowing 'free time.' Independence of thought requires well...independence. Do we over-schedule lessons, days, years of schooling?
    I've been thinking a lot about how I can do more to hold back and give more room to my students. Room, space, time: amazing things happen when we value those three commodities.

  2. >>I am always blown away by what young people can do when given love, support and a venue to shine.<< Love that line. So true.