Classroom Champions has changed the way that my students have looked at challenges presented to them, whether it be spelling new words, reading, skating, or taking turns. Last year, I saw them learning not to give up. Instead of having an attitude of “This is too hard. I can’t do this” some of the students started breaking the challenges into smaller, more manageable tasks. They learned how to do that from their mentors, sledge hockey player Tyler McGregor. Hearing his story, and seeing his example as a student and as an athlete, taught them that there is a solution to nearly every problem life may toss at them. When I saw them conquering the challenges that are in their lives, it makes me very happy to be a part of Classroom Champions.
Sometimes it felt like they tuned me out when I gave them encouragement or tried to make their work seem less daunting. I guess that comes with spending most days together. When they heard Tyler tell about the struggles he had been through, it was like a little light turned on inside of them and they were more willing to try. Having an athlete of his caliber take time out of his busy training and schooling schedule to get to know them had a huge impact. They talked about how we needed to send Tyler a picture or a message if they noticed it related to the topic of one of his video lessons.
My class last year was busy, with a lot of strong personalities that sometimes divided the group and caused problems. I reminded them that we are all on the Classroom Champions team together, which unites them again. This was amazing because it made students who might not usually feel like part of the group be included in something exciting and life changing.
My student Teddy put it best: “Classroom Champions made me feel good because I can tell Tyler cares about me, and the things I do in class and life.”
By Stephanie VanSteenis