Moms are great for telling you how awesome you are. But I don’t always feel awesome.
And during one such conversation with my mom, we laughed about the idea of “white noise awesome.” Not the winning distinguished this or that type of awesome, but the kind that most people are in their own way and no one notices. I decided that I wasn’t comfortable saying that I was awesome in the loud, noticeable kind of way – but I could be okay thinking that I had the kind of awesomeness that isn’t noticed, until it’s gone – like them hum of the refrigerator, the drone of the HV/AC. (Remember the days when you’d fall asleep watching TV and wake up to the TV snow – ).
Everyday there is background awesomeness that we have learned to tune out and ignore and take for granted. Living under the flight plan of a major airport, one of my most vivid memories of 9/11 was the silence from not hearing the planes go overhead. Funny. I hardly had ever looked up when I heard a plane go by, only the really big, really loud plane ones – then I would notice. However, no one notices all the planes that go above us every day. At least I hadn’t until they had been grounded.
I wondered… we do so much celebrating of the loud awesome. The straight A’s, the sport wins, the cream of the crop achievements. What are we doing to acknowledge the white noise awesomeness going on around us everyday? What can we do?
Celebrating the child that as achieved success in something not as flashy as a varsity sport. Maybe the child that is quietly overcoming a challenge we don’t even really know much about because she doesn’t want to share. Or the child that worked so very hard, for that C. Kids that have demonstrated privately the grit it takes, and we don’t notice because it doesn’t fit our traditional view of awesome. Those kids have already mastered the idea of a growth mindset and we don’t even realize it.
Their end game for them isn’t acknowledgement, it’s being better than they were yesterday – and they don’t even know it!
As a mom, I try to champion my own kid’s white noise awesome, and that’s easy. I can brag, advocate, post. But my job as a teacher is a bit tougher, I have to make sure that I’m fostering a classroom where white noise awesome is just as amazing as the awesome that is louder.
We often don’t give kids enough time to privately reflect and to think about this. So – last Tuesday I issued a Snow Day Challenge (Mrs. Smith’s Snow Day Challenge began last year when we had a ton a snow days. Every snow day I’d email my students a fun challenge to break up the monotony of another day – and since I looped with my kids and I have the same ones, they look forward to them again.)
This went out to my kids:
It’s a SNOW DAY!!
I’ve decided to do a snow day challenge today (for those new to my room, I try to give the kids something “to do” on a snow day to combat boredom!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things that makes us special and feel proud. It’s easy to feel proud of the things every one knows about – winning a game or getting an A.
Some of us feel proud of accomplishments that are easy to brag about. But sometimes we have faced something hard that we’ve worked through, a tough situation, something that was challenging for us. Or we’re really good at something that we think most people wouldn’t understand or get. And sometimes, those things are private and personal because we think it might be embarrassing in some way – so we don’t share them.
(For example: when I was in 6th grade, I was SO PROUD of myself for going away to 6th grade camp at Camp Greentop because I had a lot of anxiety – but I never told anyone because I was embarrassed that I was scared. And one time, I won a big award for 4-H and was SO PROUD, but was embarrassed to tell anyone because I thought they wouldn’t think it was cool I was in 4-H. And I was really SO PROUD of my C in Chemistry because I worked hard for it, but was too embarrassed because my friends were getting As and Bs.)
In school, things aren’t often very private, so on this snow day, I want you to write, draw, type, create something – anything – that expresses something (or more than one thing) you feel really proud of on the inside. And since this is private, you can do anything you want – something like winning a game, but also something private like sleeping over at camp.
And keep it. This is just for you. Share with me that you did it and I’ll give you a Dojo point… and maybe something else…, but I want you to keep on the inside that feeling of what you did that makes you feel proud of yourself.
And if you want, you can put a word or a symbol on a sticky note at school that represents what you feel proud of, and leave it on your desk. Just for you. No one will know what it really means but you, but every time you look at it you will be reminded of how awesome you really are! 🙂
I was really surprised at the number of kids that took me up on the offer and did this exercise – and brought in their sticky notes. We took a moment to talk as a class and I gave a sticky note to all the kids and had them write something they were proud of for their desks. At the end of the day, I took a picture of a sampling…. (the bottom left is supposed to be a Cub Scout patch… too cute!)
It’s important that kids take the time to think about it – and sometimes they need to do it privately. This is one idea that I had to help them tap into their inner white noise awesomeness that they didn’t even know they have – and to be inspired by it…. in their own 3rd grade way. I’m going to keep searching for more ….