Hel-LO. My name is JoHN. JoHN Hardi-SON. You know, it’s a no-brainer that things in education can sometimes be convoluted, somewhat confusing. With constant restructuring and apparent acronyms for all aspects of education, the profession of teaching and learning can appear muddled and hazy. The result can, at times, be a large, formal meeting of invested parties speaking a language no one understands. The solution really is simple. All that is needed is something to cut through the fog, something to decipher the incoherent jargon, and something to create a solid foundation by supporting the strongest and most common-sense fundamentals of education. Something………………………………………………………like……………………………… ……………………….a……………………feather……………………………………floating… …on………………………….the………………………………………wind……………………. ………………and…………………………………the…………………….undeniable………….. …#edchat……………………….wisdom………………………..of……………………………… ……………Forrest……GuMP.

1. “You want a chocoLATE?”

Always share. Period. Classroom management, go-to websites and apps, project-based assignments, creative learning models, educational theories, professional strengths and weaknesses, and teaching triumphs and tribulations. Whatever it is, share it. We will all be stronger for it.

2. “Those must be comfortable shOES. I bet you could walk all day in shoes like that and not feel a thING.”

Even when times are rocky and the ground beneath us seems to quake, we can cushion the impact and discomfort of any professional challenges by moving, thinking, and teaching forward in a soulful manner. Remembering why we teach is perhaps the most important connection to our foundation. It’s where the rubber meets the road.

3. “One time, a young man was staying with us, and he had him a guiTAR cASE.”

Recognition and celebration of others’ passions and talents, whether colleagues’ or students’, are lively sources of inspiration. Who knows where this drive for creativity may lead! One thing is for sure. The energy is definitely reciprocal.

4. “Now, mama always told me that miracles happen every day. Some people don’t think so, but they DO.”

All true educators want to see miracles. But the truth is, miracles aren’t uncommon. Any time we encourage a student to shed that which has supported him through so many difficult challenges in exchange for a confident, independent, and forward-thinking, lifelong learner, we are co-creating a marvel. Yep! Believe it! I surely hope my students look back as they conquer all obstacles before them and realize that I am no longer needed.

5. “Now, you wouldn’t believe me if I told yOU, but I can run like the wind blOWS.”

There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. I understand that. But the erroneous assumption that teachers are arrogant because they share effective learning activities is a small price to pay for ideas that could possibly contribute to “light bulb” moments for so many. Sharing an awesome idea or talent with a humble tone isn’t bragging. It’s simply the truth.

6. “Now, it used to be…I ran to get where I was goING. I never thought it would take me anyWHERE.”

By being ourselves, as educators and students, and embracing the totalities of who we are, the road ahead is filled with unimaginable adventure, excitement, contentment, growth, and ultimately…life. What a road to follow!

7. “Ma’AM! You dropped your bOOK.”

A simple, natural act of kindness may let everyone know where you stand.

8. “(Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue speaking about shrimp-boating; Forrest is silent)”

I’ve met some people who behave as if listening is optional, but they have only taught me that hearing is essential. I’m sure all educators would agree that it is a pure honor to hear students speak their hearts, and it is a heartfelt joy to witness the sparkles in their eyes as their convictions and ambitions are validated by another’s attention and time.

9. “…stingING rain, big old fat raIN, rain that blew in sideWAYS, and sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underNEATH.”

Hmmm. Details, details, details. How about this? Let’s start a new saying. Instead of the old cliché that usually accompanies any topic that deals with specifics, let’s say, “The master teacher is in the details.” Seriously. I can definitely admit that my lack of attention to the details has always cost me efficiency, clarity, and effectiveness in the classroom. That is not a trade-off I desire. I pray I may notice all details and clues in the future, so I may be worthy of being my students’ educational guide and facilitator.

10. “I g-o-t-t-a  f-i-n-d BubBA!”

Honoring a commitment to one’s own words will always send a person back into the teeth of the battle. This is precisely why teachers’ voices must always be at the forefront of educational reform. Just think of the people who will be saved along the way.

11. “The only good thing about being wounded in the butTOCKS is the ice creAM.”

Show me someone who can take a pain-in-the-posterior and find a positive to be appreciated by many, and I’ll show you a teacher. Optimism is the only way.

12. “(The perseverance represented by the “Return to Sender” letters from Forrest to Jenny Curran.)”

Quitting on a student is never an option, even if the intended messages aren’t being received at the present moment.

13. “Now the secret to this game is no matter what happens, never, ever take your eye off the ball.” (fellow soldier to Forrest Gump)

Focusing on why we started teaching is paramount, especially when the stress of weekend grading and lesson planning builds up. However, teachers’ pay has never been too alluring, so let’s agree to throw greed as a reason for teaching out the window. Therefore, what is left? A desire to serve, inspire, and guide students to achieve their highest selves. That is wealth defined.

14. “You…still…Lt. Dan.”

Struggling through hard times doesn’t make people any less human; it just means they are struggling, or, as we say in education, growing.

15. “I guess Lt. Dan figured there are some things you just can’t chANGE. He didn’t want to be called cripPLED just like I didn’t want to be called stuPID.”

We are truly more than our present circumstances. Whether we are ADD, ADHD, OCD, or sometimes just plain BAD, we contain infinite possibilities. Like I’ve heard a million times, “NORMAL” is just a cycle on a washing machine. Nothing more.

16. “Sir, you might want to send a maintenance man over to that office across the WAY. The lights are off, and they must be looking for a fuse box or someTHING. Them flashlights, they’re keeping me aWAKE.”

Honesty leads to the truth. Always.

17. “I remember everything you sAID, and I got it all figured out. I’m taking the $24, 562.47 that I got that’s left after a new haircut, a new suit, and I took maMA out to a real fancy dinner and I bought a bus ticket, then three Dr. PepPERS…So, anyway, I’m puttin’ all that on gas, ropes, new netS, and a brand new shrimpIN’ bOAT.”

Great educators make wise investments, and perhaps their priciest expense often goes unnoticed. Time.

18. “That’s my bOAT!”

I’ve made a million mistakes as an educator, and I’m sure there will be a million more. Owning these mistakes moves me past them and into the next realm of knowledge…and errors essential for improvement.

19. “MaMA, what’s my destiNY?”

Ahhh, the question that creates all other questions. It just so happens, however, that the students must discover the answers to this question. Although, excellent educators will be right beside them.

20. “When I got tired, I slePT. When I got hungry, I ate. And when I had to go, you know, I wENT.”

Good educators often lose themselves and their balance by pursuing perfection in their craft. The wise ones are equally or more successful while being just as “present” for their families and by attending to their personal aspirations. The former is effective but exhausting. The latter is effective and revitalizing.

21. “JenNY!”

One word. That’s it. Without a doubt, the most symbolic word uttered by Forrest Gump. A word that carried such weight. The weight of love, honor, acceptance, and support, yet in such an effortless manner. When faced with the response from his dying wife regarding his fear in Vietnam, “I wish I could have been there with you,” Forrest responded with, “You were.” No matter Jenny’s background, Forrest respected. No matter Jenny’s emotional scars, Forrest consoled. No matter Jenny’s ambitions, Forrest listened. No matter Jenny’s regrets, Forrest accepted. No matter. Forrest was present. Unconditionally. I’m sure Forrest was correct when he said, “Mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocoLATES; you never know what you’re gonna gET.’” But you’ll always know what you get with Forrest Gump. Undeniable #edchat wisdom. Wisdom…………………………………………………………………………………………….. ……………………….that’s………………………………….simply……………………………. ………………..floating…………………….on…………………………………………..the…… …………………………………………………………………………….wind.

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John Hardison
John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC) in Gainesville, Georgia. By creating a flexible class where literature creatively comes to life on a stage with students as the stars, Mr. Hardison focuses heavily on creativity, interactive structures, and student choices. In the past 18 years at East Hall High School, he has taught AP Language, American Literature, World Literature, and Applied Communications. Through original learning structures and a shared classroom concept, students are inspired to connect literature with their own talents and interests. Mr. Hardison shares his classroom concept and interactive structures by presenting at professional conferences and upon request by various schools. Look for John at ISTE and follow him on Twitter at @JohnHardison1.

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