Thursday, April 30, 2009

Give Your Students Opportunities to Make a Difference

Most of the students in my school come from a very stressed economic background. They don't have a lot of extra money to spend. Most don't have computers, let alone internet access. Not asking for sympathy, just telling you their background.

As you know if you read this post, my students participate in an activity called "Tie Tuesday" where they wear ties at school. I bought a bunch of ties at yard sales so my students could have them to wear.

Last week I had my students leave a post on the Daraja Academy Blog. Many of my students didn't understand why the academy was a big deal. We have free (compulsory) education in the United States. They couldn't understand why I thought the Daraja Academy was so important to Africa. They didn't get it.

After I explained how hard it was for kids to go to school in Kenya and many other African countries, they began to see the point of the academy. A light bulb went off and I realized this may be a "teachable moment". I told the students that the school ran off donations from people and I thought we might be able to help out. I asked them if they would be willing to "rent" the ties on Tie Tuesdays for a quarter and we could send the money to the academy. They unanimously agreed that it was a great idea.

This Tuesday the students started bringing me their quarters to rent the ties. Some students rented ties for their friends and a few even donated extra money. After the ties were all rented out I counted the money and they had given $10.45. Now this is not an extraordinarily large amount of money, but the students and I were both pleased. The class voted to wait until next week to send the money, after they had another chance to donate.

The money my students donate will probably not make a big contribution to the academy, but it just might make a difference with my students' attitude towards our school and their own opportunities. Their willingness to give has already made a big difference with the amount of respect I have for them.

What are you doing in your class to teach your students about giving?

Daraja Academy is the first free all-girls secondary school in all of East Africa.

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