Role Models are an important part of life. It seems young children especially are always trying to find people they want to look up to, or someone they want to be like. I believe everyone should have people like this in their lives, but it seems to not be as prevalent as adults.
Finding good role models is something I focus on with my students. We talk about what goes into making a good role model, the students all pick someone they think fits this criteria, they bring in pictures of their role models to display on our role model board, and they even write letters to them. They let the person know that they view them as a role model and are looking up to them. I think this is a very important step for multiple reasons. For one it is important to acknowledge that you have seen them doing good things and have taken notice. Also though I think many times adults forget that they may be someones roles model, and someone might be watching all of their moves, and even imitating them.
I am always thoroughly impressed and shocked by the people the students pick as their role models. It often varies from professional athletes to musicians to actors to parents and sometimes to siblings. Sometimes I have a student pick a teacher, and this year I had a student pick Virgin Mary. These students think outside the box and they really look at a person to determine if they are someone worth looking up to. They understand that their role model doesn't have to be someone that is always in the public eye, their role model might be the person on the playground who is always nice to everyone.
Once we have gone through this process and they have their role models on display you will often hear the students discussing them amongst themselves in the classroom. They want to know why someone picked who they did or "What's so great about them?" and the other students share. They can tell you exactly why they picked their role model, and why they are someone worth looking up to. Around this time I always start getting asked, "I am done with my work can I use the computer?" When I ask "What are you going to do on the computer?" I often hear ""insert child's name" was telling me all about "insert role model" and he/ she sounds really cool. I want to go find out more about them."
This is an amazing process to go through, because not only have you shown the students the importance of picking good role models, and what goes into a good role model, but now the students are discussing positive people, they are adding more role models to their list, and they are deciding on their own to go out and learn more about people, who they are, and what they do.
I wish I could show you a picture of our Role Model board, but it comes down every year, and our new one won't be up for about a month. It is a magnetic board in our room and the students put pictures of their role models on it. Then you will often see them looking at it throughout the day. Our role model board isn't static though. Often we will come across someone else who makes a good role model and their picture will get added to the board as well. Sometimes the role models right back and then those letters are copied and added to the board (assuming it is nothing to personal for the students).
Since I can't share with you all of our role models today, I would like to leave you with one of my role models..... Wayne Simien.
I came across this article from when Wayne Simien actually walked away from basketball and started his charity "Called to Greatness". I have been following Simien since he played at KU, and have always thought very highly of him. Then a few years ago I was blessed to hear him give the eulogy at my mom's cousin's funeral. Upon listening to him speak my opinion of him went through the roof, and I would say many in the room thought the same thing. It was one of the most amazing "speeches" I have ever heard, and he clearly is an amazing person. I have continued to follow him and everything he does with "Called to Greatness." You can tell this mans beliefs by how he acts and what he does in the community, not because he is always talking to reporters about his beliefs, and that's where it counts. You should be able to tell what type of person someone is by watching their actions, not only listening to what they tell you, and this man does just that he goes out everyday and shows you what his beliefs are by what he does for his community and how he treats others. He is an amazing person, and an amazing role model, and I hope other's find more people like him to look up to.
*articles are linked in the post above, click on the blue words to go read more about them*