They spoke directly to the power of teaching
and the importance of relationships in life.
This past Thursday I had the honor to deliver the keynote address for the annual faculty convocation at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The organizers put together a well-orchestrated and choreographed program that included a faculty spotlights and seven student spotlights.
Each student developed and delivered an Ignite Session. These are rapid-fire 20-slide presentations. The slides are on auto advance, changing every 15 seconds, for a total five-minute high energy message. The umbrella topic: “Igniting My Passion for Student Success.”
While I was familiar with the format having delivered a Pecha Kucha presentation earlier this year, I did not expect the level of polish and focus on message that the NOVA students presented.
Seven presentations. Seven reminders of the power of the student-teacher relationship.
I have to give a tip of the hat to NOVA for going beyond just talking about the importance of student success. They actually gave students prime time at convocation. I’ve seen convocations where student groups (like the chorale or dance troupe) took the stage to sing or otherwise perform. This was refreshingly different. Forty minutes were turned over so that seven students could stand alone (one at a time) on the stage and tell their inspirational stories.
Heartfelt stories of struggle, commitment, encouragement, and passion. They spoke directly to the power of teaching—and the importance of relationships in life. Among the lessons they emphasized:
- It only takes one teacher to make a difference; to get a student to believe in himself/herself; to change a life. This was a recurrent theme in the student messages.
- Struggle leads to strength. One student shared the quote “I am not what I have done. I am what I overcome.”
- Another of the students who is a model of resilience in the face of overwhelming odds, flashed these poignant words (attributed to Hellen Keller) on the screen, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
- We all have stories. Understand them. Share them. Learn from them. Teach from them.
The standing ovation these young scholars received at the end of their part of the program proves they ignited hearts and minds in that auditorium.
Thank you NOVA for your hospitality, but more so, thank you for sharing the collective wisdom of those Seven Superlative Student Stars. You demonstrated the power of the inextricable bond between teaching and learning. Thank you to the faculty and staff for continuing to nurture those connections. And, mostly, I have a debt of gratitude to the students for reminding us just how important authentic relationships can be in our community.
Video recommendation for the week:
I’ll leave you this week with a song from my first CD. Enjoy!
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.