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Voices: NYC school flash mob inspires

Teacher Mark Sass sees a school flash mob video as a reminder of how important it is for students to see adults having fun.

Sometimes we need less bark and more wag. Sometimes we need to set aside political and ideological differences and find commonalities – in this case, our desire to dance like no one is watching.

Parents at Brooklyn’s Park Slope P.S. 10 School secretly put together this flash mob on the last day of school. At first, you see the parents dancing, then teachers and administrators join, and finally, the entire school is letting loose.

We teachers complain about a lack of parental involvement as well as too much parental involvement. We complain when we sense that students are not held to standards at home that we believe are necessary to ensure student success. We complain when we duck for cover from “helicopter” parents who do not encourage their student to deal directly with their teachers and instead communicate with us on every detail of their student’s work.

What’s wonderful about the P.S. 10 parents’ flash mob is the understanding that school needs to be put into context. A context that realizes the importance of having fun, of celebrating a year’s hard work, of embracing the notion that it takes a community to educate out children.

I also think it is important for students to see their parents and teachers having fun. There is a wonderful scene, about halfway through the video, where a teacher goes into the crowd of students and grabs the hand of one of the students to dance. The student has a look of terror as he is being pulled into the frenzied throng of dancers. The student pulls away from the teacher and one thinks the student will recede back into the crowd of onlookers. Instead, the student breaks free and begins to dance on his own.

What a wonderful representation of what we teachers do. We encourage and cajole students who resist. But we persist, and when it works out, the student doesn’t need our encouragement any more. They can do it on their own.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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