In my regular commute to work, CBC often finds its way onto my radio, sometimes informing me, other days soothing me in my travelling to and fro. On this given day, William Prince was being featured. An indigenous folk singer from Winnipeg, Prince is up for two Junos this year, and CBC was sharing out his work and accomplishments.

Fast forward to the weekend and Sunday morning. I’m sitting at my laptop dusting off and reconfiguring a song presentation assignment for my 40S ELA class. I’ve created a presentation of my own to demo, focusing on Prince and his song ‘The Carny,’ and have built an example of a close read that I want to model on Google Docs for my students, using the ‘add a comment’ feature. I discover that the song is new enough that the lyrics aren’t available anywhere (at least that I can find), so I sit and listen, then copy them out. It takes a bit of time (well, not really given that the song is only three minutes and 22 seconds long), but the exercise has me digging deep into Prince and his ideas, prompting me to explore and search out more about him on the net. Low and behold I find that he has a Twitter account. “I should send him a private direct message or better still an open tweet to see if he would be interested in coming out to my school and sharing/singing some of his songs to celebrate I Love to Read month,” I think to myself. “This would further reinforce for my students the motto that I’m constantly trying to instill in them; all the world is a text.” Then before I know it, my critic voice chimes in, suggesting that the idea is, “silly if not a pie in the sky dream, and that I should let it go and get back to work.”

But what if he does respond? This question provokes me enough to grab my phone, search out Prince’s Twitter handle and then begin typing up a tweet. What I am going to say? How do I spin this so as to make my request meaningful without sounding like a ‘nut job?’ Not quite 144 characters later, I’ve got something, but before I press send, the critic voice rises up again with its biting cynicism. “This is going live and people will see this! Do you really want that?!” Little does the voice know that these very words speak the inspiration I need to follow through. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t respond. Done and over with. But someone who knows him better and has a relationship with him might see the tweet, love the idea, and get him to come to their school instead. If he does respond, if he does take me up on the offer, I get to have a Juno nominated local indigenous singer/songwriter come and share with my students, further challenging their understanding of what a text is or could be beyond the world of books, while taking another step in my students’ and my own journey towards reconciliation. “Stuff it critic voice, this tweet is going live.”

Brett Schmall
Learning Coach/GVS High School Teacher

in: LM Articles