Friday, April 20, 2012

Following Dr. Ben Carson's Philosophy: THINK BIG!

As the week continues, I still feel a little bit like I'm on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.  Upon getting a hero's welcome upon my return to school, there are news articles being posted about my Anne Arundel County Private School Teacher of the Year Award.  My head is still spinning in the media frenzy, email kudos, and hugs from kids/parents/and colleagues alike.

I also found it extraordinarily fitting to return to school this week in time to finish our latest read aloud:  Gifted Hands:  The Ben Carson Story by Gregg Lewis & Deborah Shaw Lewis.  This book is especially meaningful this year to me in that last year our Eagle Cove School 3rd--5th graders were fortunate enough to meet Dr. Carson at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  This week, we were just in place to read the last two chapters in this biography of Baltimore's famous pediatric neurosurgeon.  Those chapters were entitled:  "Do You Have a Brain?" and "Thinking Big."
I was struck with how timely these words of wisdom were in relation to having just received the Teacher of the Year award.  Especially when I read this book quote:
"He tells students that it doesn't matter who they are, what color their skin is, where they come from, or how much money their family has.  Education is the great equalizer....Education and determination were all he needed to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor."
Dr. Ben Carson's philosophy for success in life is simple:  "THINK BIG."  Each year after reading this book to my students, I use his acrostic as one of our weekly dictations, just as I did this week, along with a quote:
Gifted Hands, Kids Edition: The Ben Carson Story (ZonderKidz Biography)

In-depth Learning
Greatness, or God, or Gratitude   
[I let the kids choose the word of their choice... although Ben Carson openly discusses the strength of his faith in God.]
"To THINK BIG and to use our talents doesn't mean we won't have difficulties along the way.  We will--we all do.  If we choose to see the obstacles in our path as barriers, we stop trying." ~Dr. Ben Carson
As I was stating it for the kids, I was struck by how many of these traits (plus education and determination) had led me to where I am right now (including being on "this side" of my award, which still leaves me humbled and honored).  All of my years of hard work helped me earn this recognition.  Most certainly, I am filled with gratitude and the awareness that every experience in my past has led me to this place where I am now.  In looking at it with this perspective, with this vantage point, you most certainly see the gifts... the gifted hands... that have set me here on this path.  Moreover, it's clear what a teachable moment truly is!

Book image from; class photo from our Johns Hopkins experience with Dr. Ben Carson last May 2011,


  1. Well stated and well written. Throughout my 38 3/4 years of teaching in Decatur, Illinois, the one thread that ran with me (a statement learned in college, so many years ago) was..."The teachable moment." So many times throughout my career, the lesson plan that I'd worked so hard to create, ran out the window and took a different path...all due to the "teachable moment." Some of the most important things that I learned as a student and taught as a teacher, were the results of the "teachable moment." When that moment arrives or just need to run with it and it may be one of the most important things you ever teach...AND... it can't always be planned in that "perfect" lesson plan.

  2. I completely concur...the "teachable moment" can trump the preplanned, well-carved lesson in an instant! Not to mention, the attention level of your audience on those teachable moments far surpasses any other!!