Janis Joplin Moments

Last week during our in-service day, my principal shared the story of a little girl who appeared on America’s Got Talent. He said she was awkwardly shy and answered the judge’s questions with simple, mostly one word answers, barely making eye contact. When asked what she was going to perform, she said she was going to be singing. Of course, the idea of someone who can barely answer basic questions with one word answers singing is almost laughable, but what happened next was nothing short of extraordinary.

When the music started (“Hard to Handle”), this shy little girl came to life, channeling her inner Janis Joplin. From the first note, the girl started dancing with unabashed confidence, her whole body in motion. Then, when it was time to sing, this apprehensive young girl let loose with vocals rivaling studio recording artists. No longer shy, and free to be herself, this child lost herself in the moment and became someone entirely different—her timidity vanished in an instant as she found her moment to shine.

My principal asked how often moments like this are happening in our classrooms compared to the run they perform in route to the busses at the end of the day, and it made me stop to think for a moment. How often does that happen in my classroom? I can remember a few isolated moments throughout the last two years, but that’s it. While I don’t necessarily want students belting out lyrics to their favorite songs in the middle of class, I want them to come out of their shells and come alive in my classroom. I want my students to find themselves wrapped up in the moment, forgetting recess is moments away, or that the bell is about to ring. I want to create Janis Joplin moments in my classroom this year.

What about you? How many of those Janis Joplin moments can you remember from this last year in your classroom? What are you doing to make sure this happens? I’d love some feedback in the comments below if you have an example to share, or if you have a method or two that helps you facilitate these experiences in your classroom.

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About the Author: Shawn Seeley

Father, husband, teacher, retired Marine.

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