At my first environmental education position, my friend and fellow teacher advised me that she literally told some of her more challenging students to “drop their cool cards,” and usually it worked. She explained that the students weren’t necessarily disinterested in outdoor environmental education. After all, how fun it is to touch a huge purple sea star for the first time in your life!? Make a rap about the tadpole you just caught in the pond!? Play a game of tag to illustrate the life cycle!? Or build a geodesic dome so strong that you can climb on it!? These students were challenging because they were uncomfortable in a new environment. They worried about how they would be perceived if they let their guard down and embraced hands-on learning.
While I don’t recall actually saying “drop your cool card” to any of my students, I always kept this in mind while I taught. Therefore, when a girl in my cabin group at another teaching position flipped the bird to a boy within 30 minutes of arrival, I knew that this was a cool card situation. We talked, and I reminded her of the behaviors that were and weren’t acceptable, but I knew I also needed to work on creating a safe space so she could drop her cool card. It wasn’t easy. Our cabin was nestled next to the forest (she was sleeping beside dark trees full of wild animals making weird sounds) and contained girls from several other schools that she hadn’t met before (she was living with complete strangers).
The cool card wasn’t dropped immediately, but she kept it holstered more often. We didn’t have any more discussions, and eventually she dropped it. By the middle of the week she was just as eager as the other students in my cabin to participate in games and activities. Her ear-to-ear smile lit up the cafeteria.
Are you letting your cool card prevent you from living life to the fullest? I invite you to drop your cool card, and experiment with some things that you have been avoiding simply because you’re worried they might make you seem uncool. Yes, you might feel a little awkward crawling ten yards in front of other people, but you might feel fantastic and realize that it really isn’t such a big deal. Yes, you might get some looks when you declare that you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or simply that you don’t want diabetes, so you’ll have to pass on dessert. However, by doing so, you might find people who support you.
Drop your cool card and experiment. You just might find yourself smiling from ear-to-ear.
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a safe and healthy week.