It takes a certain kind of crazy to teach middle school: a fact that really goes without saying. The profession attracts people with certain qualities. I fit that mold rather perfectly. Crazy dress days, ridiculous dance routines at rallies, practical jokes on other teachers: I’m game for it all. So I thought. When one of our teachers suggested we do the ALS ice bucket challenge, I believe my eyes audibly rolled. Not because I have any aversion to getting a large bucket of ice dumped on me in front of the entire school, but because I was so sick of watching video after video in my social media feeds of wet, screaming heads. I mean if everyone was doing it, it can’t be “cool” anymore, right? (Yeah, at moments I still think I might be cool.)
Ignoring my “coolness” dilemma, I decided to get involved. I even helped organize. Then I did some research. The fundraising numbers since this challenge began are staggering. The ALS Association has never raised this much money in such a short amount of time. After talking to a few staff members, I learned of a friend of theirs, a local principal stricken with ALS. She is now confined to a wheelchair due to the disease. We decided to collect from our staff and students on her behalf. More than anything, it was important to me for our students to realize the point of the whole challenge. They had seen the countless videos, too, and even laughed at the “fail” collages on Youtube. The sensation is ubiquitous. At the very least, I hoped my middle schoolers would walk away that day with an understanding of the reasons behind the craze. More importantly, I wanted them to realize that sometimes it is important that we think beyond ourselves and give to others.
I also concluded that getting a bucket of ice poured over my head might be the coolest I would ever be. So, cheers to all of you out there who continue the ice bucket challenge. As an educator, I am always trying to make what I teach relevant. What is more relevant than teaching kids human compassion? Even if everyone is doing it.