It is really tough today to have the confidence you need to be successful. If you are out of work and been unemployed for over 6 months, then you question if you have it anymore. When you have trouble paying your bills, you lose confidence. When you are being bullied at school for being you, you lose confidence. I was talking to my sister, Sandy, last night and shared with her a story of a project I did almost 20 years ago and how it helped a student build confidence. She said I should write about it. So here goes…

I helped write a Technology Innovation Grant for middle schools in 1990. We got it. I was contracted to work with teachers to build projects that integrated technology into the curriculum. The schools in this particular grant were Title I schools with diverse ethnic groups. In the 6th grade core classes (Ancient History and Language Arts), we needed some ways to engage the students and bring history alive. I mean how do 12 and 13 year olds relate to Ancient History? So one of the projects I came up with was Channel Nile News. The students would create a news show going back to Ancient Egypt with commercials. We would put on several segments where students worked in teams assigned real world tasks. Some of the shows resembled the Today Show and the Tonight Show. The teams had to write a proposal on what they would like to do, the roles each of them would play, and time. Some of the shows included:

  • News report about Hatshepsut, Female Pharoah of Egypt
  • Weekly weather report using a green screen
  • Mummification (How to using a stuffed animal)
  • Selling a pyramid

This last one on pyramids changed a student’s life. This team decided that one of the boys (who was overweight and shy and being bullied at the school – name withheld to protect the innocent :) would be the pyramid salesman. This came from the group. No questions. He wanted to sell the pyramid and the rest of his team said “okay.” They watched commercials of car salesmen to use as an example of how to sell his pyramid. The artist created a detailed drawing of the outside and inside tombs of the pyramid. The graphic artist and writer created a storyboard and wrote the script out on a poster board to be held below the camera. The camera and audio crew set up the stage and practiced with the actor. All of this was going on while other teams were working on their projects. It was pretty cool! I was watching the process and saw this actor grinning, laughing, and changing right before our eyes.

When the classes saw the video of him selling the pyramid like a real car salesman — pointing to this tomb as a place for the special rendezvous — and those steps to a secret room as an added value — all of us saw something in him that we never saw before. He was funny. He was clever. He was not the person they thought he was — a timid, shy, sad person. He changed everyone’s opinion of him with that video. His confidence changed also. When the video was over, the room went wild with clapping and excitement.

I wish I still had that video to show you, but it’s not the video that matters. It’s this process that finds the strengths of each individual, and a team that is willing to take risks with each other, so each member can shine and show who they really are.

You cannot find that with a test.

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