Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Students Are The Goonies

I am avid reader of The Nerdy Teacher blog and especially like his "Everything I Learned About Education" series where we writes about classic movies and compares them to education. A while back we chatted about doing a combo post about the movie Goonies. Below is my post and you can see Nick's insights on his blog as well. So, here is my first attempt at a similar themed post.


As with many movies, Goonies is a great because many of us can relate to the characters. We see pieces of ourselves and those we know within the dialogue and actions of those on screen. Teachers deal with “characters” on a daily basis and we have Goonies in our classrooms every day.

Mikey

Mikey is the kid with all the bright ideas. This is the natural born leader that can get anyone to do just about anything. As a teacher you put this student in position to be a leader in a positive way. Mikey’s have passion and teachers need to channel that with engaging work as they will bring others on board with them. They will naturally fall to the front of the line and lead groups in group projects. Find these students, get them on your side, and they will be a helpful resource in the classroom.

Lawrence “Chunk”

Chunk is one on my favorite characters as we all have a “Chunk” in our classrooms and in our lives. This is the kid that is typically the butt of all jokes but has the best sense of humor. Rarely is this person taken seriously but people feel good when they are around. As a teacher, we need to be aware of who these kids are because they are often victims of bullying. They often try to overcome their “differences” such as weight, intelligence, or ethnicity with humor and becoming a class clown. It is important to support these kids as they often put on a strong front but their feelings are easily hurt. Their sense of humor is often their coping mechanism for feelings that stem from their differences.

Richard “Data”

Data is another great character and one that we have all seen sitting in our classrooms. This is the kid with their hand always up in the air. They know all the answers and will go above and beyond in anything you ask them to do. In addition, to being good students, they are often the creative problem solvers. Instead of doing things the traditional way, Data wants to do things differently and think outside of the box. The key to teaching a Data is to challenge them in authentic ways. Don’t give them extra homework but provide extra learning opportunities for them. Give them a problem and the freedom to use available resources to solve it. These kids are naturally curious and need an outlet of that curiosity.
Clark “Mouth”

Clark reminds me of more than one of my students and many of my friends growing up. He is the smooth talking, ladie’s man, with a knack for talking himself out of trouble. In a classroom these are the students that would be characterized as “street smart”. They know how to play the game and get what they want through telling grand stories or spinning elaborate excuses. From a teacher’s point of view, it is crucial to push the “Mouths” in your classrooms beyond the superficial. These students want to just get by with the bare minimum and sweet talk their way through school. Don’t settle for mediocre with them and they will be more capable than they let on.

Sloth

Sloth for me is symbolic of the abnormal or different students we have in classes. This is not to be demeaning but the reality of the population of students with various disabilities and struggles they bring to school with them. As the Fratellis did, often we want to hide these students because they are not the social norm in our schools. Instead of hiding them and pushing them away, we need to embrace them as Chunk and the Goonies did. Regardless of the differences student may have, all students have something to offer in their own way. Teachers need to never stop looking for ways to find those talents and skills and share them.

Fratelli’s

The criminal family in the movie, the Fratelli’s, is the obstacle that kids face in achieving their goal. Many kids in our classrooms have obstacles that prohibit them from their learning, social, or emotional goals. Whether that obstacle is a disability, an abusive home, a bully, or poverty, all kids deal with something. It is critical as teachers to find out what our student’s Fratelli are and do whatever is in our power to help them overcome it. We cannot expect a student to perform in our classrooms if they have Mama Fratelli looking over their shoulder.

Brandon “Brand”
I felt compelled to have Brand included because he serves a critical role in the lives of the Goonies. He is the big brother, the protector, and in some way is the sound of reason. For our students, many do not have a Brand in their life. In my opinion, all students need a Bran and seek them out for that acceptance and approval that the older brother gives. The key is to help our students find that Bran that will be a positive influence for them and in some cases we, the teachers, play that role for students.
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