Getting them to Growl

My students will be hungry tomorrow.  I am so excited for the first day of school because we are all a bit hungry…maybe for different things, but the excitement is palpable and the day moves so quickly as we are quenching our hunger.  My hope is that Kristin and I can create an environment where that hunger lives.  We don’t want the hunger to be there on the first day and then slowly (or immediately) disappear, but we want to build on the hunger of the first day so that each day students hunger for hungryknowledgeKNOWLEDGE and learning grows.  We want to be the composers of a genius symphony building in crescendos for our hungry musicians!

I have lived in a college town or a thriving educational city during all of my 34 years.  Only now am I aware of my deep desire to be a learner in any way that I can be.  We were recently visiting the campus of Michigan State University as students were moving in and getting settled.  My family and I were going to feed the ducks in the Red Cedar River that runs through campus before catching the MSU Marching Band practice in preparation for Big 10 Football season to get underway.  Having young guys with us, we had an emergency bathroom run into one of the academic buildings after our bagel-scrap duck food ran out.  We walked past the classrooms where students were collaborating in small groups.  I stood outside a classroom where faculty were buzzing with each other and with students as they prepared for their first days of class.  I ached to be enrolled as a student at MSU.  My belly truly had butterflies and the wheels in my mind were spinning as to how I might make my way into a lecture hall this fall to take in this familiar student experience.

In my mind I rewound to my school experience and I know that these feelings have not ALWAYS been present.  It is only now, in my early (ok, maybe mid) thirties that I am able to articulate my deep rooted desire to gain knowledge.  Only now am I identifying as HUNGRY…hungry for knowledge.  HOW CAN I MAKE THIS FEELING (ever) PRESENT IN MY SIXTH GRADERS? I know that in sixth grade I didn’t feel this way.  Despite being surrounded by academics for my entire life, I have not always felt this way.


The butterflies in my stomach felt so fun…the attempt in my brain to try to get into that class in any way possible felt naughty yet somehow also empowering!  If my students’ minds moved in this way to facilitate their learning in any possible way or for them to get goosebumps or butterflies as they encounter something academically inspiring, I will feel victorious.


Could learning and the quest for knowledge be a visceral experience for our sixth grade students?  We are working to make it so!!  If Chaim Potok speaks the truth I hope that my year starts with an amazingly hungry first day and progresses from there!


Looking ahead to tomorrow!  We want to hear their stomachs and their minds growling!

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