Signing “Happy” …by Pharrell Williams… our future is in good hands.

I was invited recently to give a sign language workshop for a group of 7-8-9th grade girls.
Yes. 7th 8th 9th grade. Immediately I was nervous and my nervous thinking began, “That age ! All they will want is their device! How will I ever keep them interested? I am SO not cool ” LOL!

When the day came, the workshop began and actually they were really catching on to signs for the words to the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. As I had started to prepare for this I had searched for a meaningful life lesson to tie into the sign language lesson. I had hoped to add a meaningful discussion about the word “Happy”.
(Yea I know what you’re thinking… “7th , 8th and 9th graders? How’s that workin’ out for ya?” )
So, as most teachers of this age group know, I ended up just hoping that I could keep their interest till the end of the lesson! (LOL !)
As expected, their attention was drifting as we finished signing the words with the music to our song,”Happy”. “Now what?” I am thinking, “Now what?”
And then, as I turned off the CD player, one of the girls noticed the kindness award certificates I had in the bottom of the box. She poked at it with this wrinkled up look on her face and asked with just a little too much lilt in her voice “What’s that?”… now all heads have turned our way.
I am thinking ,”Oh, no…Ok, I’m losing them. Now they will laugh and laugh and laugh….and then laugh some more.”

Trying my best to be nonchalant I began,”These are for you to give to your little sisters and brothers, cousins, neighbors…” My voice trailed off and I waited.
And that, my friends is all that it took.
In the next few seconds,they all sat up, heads up. ( Yay! )
I picked up a certificate and continued “…you can share with the little ones what makes people happy, and that we are most happy when…?
And one of those sweet girls said, “When I help people.” Another girl said, “When I am kind to others.”
At this point I am marveling and laughing at the same time. I am marveling that I should have known that these girls already know that life lesson. And I am laughing because they are ready, willing and very happy to help me tie it to my sign language lesson. Putting the stack of certificates on the table I added, “So, yea! Good ideas, girls! When you show them your sign language you can tell them about the things that really make people happy and you will decide when to give the little ones a certificate for being kind.”
Those “grown up girls” eagerly rushed up to grab up two and three kindness award certificates each, chatting about “showing little sister some sign language” and “giving kindness certificates”. Funny how I was wondering and worrying about keeping these 7th -8th -9th graders engaged. Turns out, it wasn’t what I said or how I said it, or the music or the lesson. All it took was for them to see an opportunity to share something…it was like magic… they tied it up neat and tidy as a gift… they were on it.
These kids are great.

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