At the end of November I met Marc Tison (in case your school is like ours and myspace is blocked, here’s somewhere else to go), a pretty well known skateboarder from Montreal, and we got to talking about one of my students whose dream is to be a sponsored skateboarder. In fact, at the beginning of the year we drafted some long term goals to achieve this dream.
(I think about this student a lot because I fear sometimes that he’s going to leave school as soon as he legally can (next year). He’s 15, struggles greatly with reading, writing, and sustained listening, and all he wants to do is skateboard. At the beginning of the year he skipped class more often than he was there, but after a meeting with our VP to drive the point home, his mother and I quickly got on top of that – me by emailing her as soon as possible after I noticed him missing, and she by following through with consequences for skipping school at home. His family is incredibly supportive of him and the work that we do together. He’s a very lucky boy.)
Back to the story….Somehow through our conversation we came up with a plan where Marc would spend some time with him just skating, having fun, maybe teach him some tricks, and then that experience could potentially form the basis of a project at school. I liked the idea because not only would my student have a good time, but he would meet a well-known, sponsored skateboarder who also has a day job – dispelling his belief that he won’t need one if he gets sponsored. I spoke with my student’s mother, who loved the idea, and we set the plan in motion.
I showed up at my student’s house this morning and he was SHOCKED, to say the least! You should have seen the look on his face to see his teacher at his door on a Sunday morning! I told him that I had a friend who wanted to meet him and that he’d need his skateboard. His parents gave him permission to leave with me and off we went.
I think he remained a bit in shock, and was definitely shy, for much of the afternoon. At one point he came out of the skateboarding area to take a break and I told him that we only had about 30 minutes left before Marc had to leave. He looked at me with big eyes, threw his helmet back on his head, and rolled back down to join Marc.
He definitely took advantage of the rest of their time together. From where I was sitting it looked like they were working pretty hard at trying to do some kind of spinning trick (fakie nose something or other…it’s beyond me!). When he finally landed it he turned to look at Marc and did a ‘Yeah!‘, you know, hands balled in fists and elbows thrown back past the waist, and that made it worth it for me. I sure wish I had caught that on film.
Marc gave my student a copy of Pipe Fiends: A Visual Overdose of Canada’s Most Infamous Skate Spot, a book he compiled and wrote with his friend Barry Walsh about ‘the pipe’ near the Olympic Stadium in Montreal (which I will be borrowing from him soon…) along with a whack of other fun stuff – stickers, posters, a t-shirt (‘cool, I hope it fits, I want to wear it tomorrow‘).
As soon as he got into my car at the end of it all there was NO DOUBT that he had enjoyed the afternoon at the skatepark with Marc. Non stop talking about what they spoke about (‘he said I had inspired him to try a trick he hadn’t done in 10 years and he even landed it!‘) and that he can’t wait until it’s nice out so he could go try out the pipe (poor guy, he’s going to have to wait a good 3 or 4 months before it’s nice out again in Montreal…).
So…where will we go from here?
I’m going to introduce him to podcasting so that publishing to his blog and his wiki pages becomes less of a struggle for him and today’s experience will be incorporated into those spaces. And since he is one of the older students in the class I will train him to teach the others how to do the same.
I’m also thinking that, as a stepping stone for proficiency with the microphone and talking to an audience, I may ask him to create some voice threads about the photos from today.
We could also possibly look at the idea of community and examine why Marc, an established skater, would want to spend time with him, someone just starting out.
I’d like to also plan some kind of post-day communication between my student and Marc – a thank you note at least, but hopefully something more in depth…but I will stop there and let my student continue with the planning (though I may offer some, er, suggestions). After all, it was his day :)
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