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When Nobody's Looking

My friends give me a hard time about something and they're totally justified in doing so. It happens in museums (a lot) and it also happens at fairs and libraries. I suppose it even happens when I'm walking down the street and notice something remarkable.

Basically, I get totally engrossed in things I find interesting, moving, or exceptional. I call it "engrossed," but my wife would probably describe it as, "Wandering off and spending waayyyy too much time reading or analyzing something."

It happened again last week, but for the first time in a long time I wasn’t alone.

Everyone around me was completely mesmerized by the same thing I was. And we couldn't get enough. Our school was celebrating an all-day fun run with balloons, music, and lots of people. There was some running too. But it was the DJ’s dancing that had us enthralled. (Imagine the most incredible dance moves in the world and then multiply them by 50 billion. That was our DJ.)

The DJ was also very gifted at connecting with kids and engaging them in the music. (At one point he helped them form a circle where they celebrated each other’s dancing.) I really appreciated this because students really seemed to appreciate it. He also emanated positivity and passion to the point he seemed to have a gravitational pull all his own. This next part may be hard to believe, but it’s actually what the DJ did when nobody was looking that I was most impressed with.

When the crowd had dispersed and everyone had moved on to cheer for the kids who were running...because it was a fun run and not just a huge dance party...the DJ did something I found revolutionary.

He danced. He danced for himself. After dancing all day long...for every single grade-level...the DJ danced for himself. I have no idea how he mustered up the energy to keep dancing during his only downtime, but it was really inspiring. An artist in his element. A professional driven by something bigger than his job. And it was an absolute privilege to watch.

Words can’t really describe the feeling, but it was strangely familiar. There are times I’ll visit classrooms and catch a glimpse of the way teachers champion students when nobody is looking. Artists in their element. Professionals driven by something bigger than “just a job." Words can’t really describe that either.

If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.



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