Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reflections on Sharon M. Draper

Tonight I had a wonderful experience. As a part of the education department here at Salisbury University, we have something called the Riall Lecture. This lectures are endowed by E. Pauline Riall, who left the university the money for these lectures in her will. Tonight's lecture was by Sharon M. Draper, internationally known author, motivational speaker and National Teacher of the Year in 2007. In the past, I haven't had the best experiences with Riall Lectures (some are better than others), but Mrs. Draper was, without a doubt, one of the best speakers I have ever seen.

Mrs. Draper was incredibly engaging in her lecture. She didn't stand at the podium and simply speak at us, but she walked all along the stage, doing her best to involve us as an audience. She used personal stories from her travels across the country in her lecture, making it seem less like her stating facts to help us in the classroom and more like her talking to a friend about an adventure she has. There was also humor threaded throughout the stories.

Of course, Mrs. Draper's lecture wasn't all fun and games, she had wonderful advice mixed in with her stories. She continued to emphasize that as teachers, we shouldn't get all caught up with the technology and everything else that we forget that our students are living, breathing human beings who need one-on-one help and support. She also put an emphasis on making sure that students don't think that they're failures (sound familiar? Sounds like my placement teacher, Mrs. B.) or else they will fail because that's what's expected of them. The little things in life also make a huge difference, especially to students. Sometimes it doesn't take much at all to get their attention and change their lives.

Mrs. Draper closed her lecture with a profound statement. The dash between dates showing the years when a person lives (ex: 1881-1963) is a person's life, what are you going to do with your dash? So now I ask you, what are you going to do with your dash? Get off the computer (okay, finish reading this post then get off, you're almost done!), and do something productive with your life. And no, taking out the trash doesn't count as productive.

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