I don’t usually take inspiration for my life from hip-hop or rap songs, but these lyrics from Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” have important implications for each of us. “Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted–one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
I began thinking about this line for use as my quote of the week in my classroom, thinking about how it applies to students. Often, our students do have one opportunity–an education. And sometimes they are the ones who get to decide if they capture it or just let it slip. I’m not abdicating my role as teacher; I’m just stating that ultimately, the student decides if he/she wants the opportunity afforded by education. Students who drop out or turn off have, for whatever reason, decided that they are going to let this opportunity slip. That is how I’ll frame the quote of the week to my students.
Additionally, it has a great implication for me as an educator. I only get “one shot, one opportunity.” Sometimes that comes in the form of a full year of instruction with a group of students. Sometimes it comes in the form of one day or one moment to make a difference in the life of a middle school student struggling with the pains of moving from childhood into adolescence. Sometimes it comes in the form of a few weeks with a transient student before he moves on to another school.
Whatever time I have with my students, it only comes once: there are no do-overs in a child’s education. The opportunities that come on Monday to inspire students to greatness in science or greatness within themselves may not be available on Tuesday.
I can’t say that I seized every opportunity that I encountered last week, and I can’t say that I’ll catch every one this week. (I’m still improving: I haven’t arrived yet.) However, I will do my best not to let any important opportunities slip anymore. (Important opportunities are those that are essential to improving the lives and education of my students.) Won’t you join me in this endeavor?