Having something to say

I can’t remember where I heard it.  It was a few years ago when someone I trusted (but can’t seem to remember) said something like, “There’s a difference between having to say something and having something to say.”  I’m not sure if it was related to teaching (I was taking classes for my credential at the time) or blogging (I had been reading and listening to several bloggers), or social media (I was starting to explore the field of social media marketing.)

Regardless, this concept of “having to say something” vs. “having something to say” has been stuck in my mind over the past few weeks as we’re getting closer to the end of the term.  Here’s what’s happening: I’ll often find myself getting frustrated with students for not completing their work (mostly video projects) on time.  In the midst of this frustration, I’ll end up saying things like, “This should be a really quick assignment… you’ve just got to get it done… no need to make it perfect, just turn it in… something is better than nothing…”  In essence, I’m encouraging my students to skimp on the quality of their work so that they can get it finished sooner.  This is the “you’ve got to say something” mindset.  The more I slip into this thinking, the more uncomfortable I become.

Instead, I want my students to really have something to say.  I want the products they create for class to be natural outpourings from their gifts, desires, interests, and passions.  I want them to have a message inside of them that they just can’t keep in so they’ll come in early and stay late to express it.  I want their passions to be reflected in the quality of their work.  I want them to “have something to say.”

And I want them to turn it in on time.  Is that too much to ask?

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