Some lessons stick with us for a lifetime.
A teacher named Stephanie from Toronto, Canada distinctly remembers watching a basketball movie called “Like Mike” when she was a kid. The movie’s message stuck with her, so she showed it to her elementary students while discussing diversity and inclusion.
Over the course of a semester, Stephanie did a weeks-long lesson about how our differences make us unique, and how we shouldn’t judge people until we’ve “walked a mile in their shoes.” The movie helped tie this message in with her students’ real lives.
“It was about this orphan that ended up getting a pair of Michael Jordan’s shoes,” Stephanie explained. “And he thought that the shoes were what made him, but in reality, it’s him who made the shoes.”
Students spent their class time taking measurements of their feet in math, designing their own sneakers on paper, and writing journals about making judgements about others based on appearances. Since Stephanie considers herself a “sneakerhead,” which is someone who collects and wears athletic shoes as a sort of hobby, she began working behind the scenes to make the final lesson in her plan something her students would never forget.
Without telling them, Stephanie bought a pair of white sneakers for each and every student in her class. She paid for it all out of her own pocket, but as costs added up she eventually asked her community for donations.
On the day of the big reveal, Stephanie unveiled the boxes of sneakers. The kids went wild! Some of them even cried.
Each student decorated their new shoes with their own sense of style and flair. They had a blast making their shoes on their own, and the deeper lesson was not lost on them.
“This was like a big, kind of project at the end of the school year that tied everything in together, all of their cultures, their creativity, their ideas,” said Stephanie. “In a way, it was unison, because they all had a shoe, but they all got to show their backgrounds, their creativity from making it individualistic.”
As Stephanie says, “differences make everybody beautiful!” This is such a fantastic way to teach kids the value of not judging others, empathy, and creativity. We hope more teachers follow her path and create meaningful lessons like this one!
Take a closer look at these students’ sneakers below and don’t forget to share this valuable lesson.
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