A Guiltless Sunday Afternoon: 100 Minutes Well Spent

It's Sunday afternoon at 4:55pm.  I have not opened my lesson plan book yet.  I do not have penciled-in versions of my week neatly laid out and ready to go.  This is not how I usually operate, and this is not how I feel when I break all my rules.  Usually, panic, guilt and anxiety would be setting in.  My head would be full of reproachful comments, "What are you doing?  Why have you wasted a whole Sunday afternoon?  You are SO going to regret this!"  Teacher-guilt mode in full-on action.

But this afternoon I sat down on the couch (ask my kids, I never do this) to fold laundry and decided to watch Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th on Netflix.  I thought I'd sit for about 20 minutes, watch a little bit, and then get to lesson planing (ask my kids, I always do this on Sundays).

But for 100 minutes I did not move.  Did. Not. Move.

I sat riveted to the screen for the entire documentary.  I cannot tell you all the things I learned from 13th.  I cannot tell you how relevant 13th is right now.  You need to watch it to gain all that for yourself.  What I can tell you is that for the first Sunday during the school year for the past twenty years, I feel no guilt over watching 100 minutes of TV during my prime block of shut-the-world-out-must-plan-for-the-week-time.  None whatsoever.

My job as an educator is a privilege.  I get to spend my days in a classroom impacting the young people in the room with me.  I have a choice about the kinds of reading, writing and discussions that we have.  But, perhaps more importantly, I have a choice about my own perceptions. I can look at them, or I can ignore them.  But make no mistake, my perceptions about the world will color everything I bring into the space I share with my students, perhaps impacting them more than any assignment or learning we do.

Watching 13th today, I thought a lot about the world we live in, and I thought a lot about the students I teach.  We all are part of the country we live in, and as such, have a responsibility to know as much as we can about our history and about our present.

So, did I do lesson planning today?  I did better than lesson planning.  I got to question where some of my attitudes have come from and to look deeply at myself as a teacher and a human being.  And every time I crack open and question what I think I know and where my thoughts and attitudes have come from, I am becoming a better teacher for all the kids in my classroom.  And from that place, better lessons will come.

Haven't watch 13th yet?  Do it!  I promise it will be time well spent.



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