Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Closing Keynote at NECC with Erin Gruwell

NECC 2009 Closing Keynote

Freedom Writers: Erin Gruwell

Gruwell is a teacher from Boston who's work with a group of troubled students was made into a movie in 2007 called "The Freedom Writers". Here is Gruwell's recount of the Freedom Writers' journey.

Talks about making connections to students by getting to know them: who they are and what their history is (background).

Believing in students that everyone has a story to write about in their marble journal.

Tell me your story. Every student has a journey. It starts somewhere – where will it go?

Anne Frank's Story

Toast for change - Teach to me, not to a test.

Meaningful assignment – raise enough money and write enough letters to get Mead Geese to come from Amsterdam to LA to meet the students.

“It's a win win because we did it together – but if she does come, your lives will never be the same.”

And then she came. Student prepared best cultural dishes.

My momma wants to read about the little girl who changed my life. - Maria

I have never had a hero in my entire life but you're my hero – Darius

No I'm not a hero. I simply did what I needed to do because it was the right thing to do. Please make sure that Anne's life was not taken in vain.

Stereotyped kids will begin to believe what others say.

Turned their journals into a book to give to the Secretary of Education.

Freedom writers go to Washington (150 kids) (They named their book "Freedom Writers" after the civil rights leaders from the south in the 60s)

They may not change the world, but they would change themselves.

#1 on NY Times best sellers list. Book funded these students to go to college – the first in their families

I got out because education was the only way to equalize an unfair playing field.

The blank screen gave them the power to be immortal.

Start an organization to help teachers learn what they need to know about what they need to know to connect to each of their students – the Freedom Writers Teachers' Bootcamp.

Why kids do the things that they do. Because doing dumb things doesn't make a kid stupid. Imagine what would happen if you told them that they are brilliant.
Leave a legacy – tell people what they need to know about our profession.

Education is about believing that every single kid can make it.