SOL ’18 Tuesday: Borrowing “Thunder”


Not a yes sir, not a follower
Fit the box, fit the mold
Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
I was lightning before the thunder…

Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning and the thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning and the thunder
Thunder, thunder

Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming ’bout being a big star
You say you’re basic, you say you’re easy
You’re always riding in the back seat
Now I’m smiling from the stage while
You were clapping in the nose bleeds…

Written by Alexander Junior Grant, Benjamin Arthur Mckee, Daniel Coulter Reynolds, Daniel James Platzman, Daniel Wayne Sermon, Jayson M. Dezuzio • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

This song keeps popping up in my head. It’s on the radio, my son and I sing along. Every time.

“Thunder” by Imagine Dragons.

That line about being laughed at in school, about dreaming of something bigger and beyond, that’s the stanza I know by heart. I love the clapback – “Now I’m smiling from the stage while/ you were clapping from the nosebleeds.” I always sing that part, deliciously, confidently like I can taste the justice in it.

Then I think about class. My classes, in fact. And I wonder which of my little superstars are “scheming for the masses.” If it’s not all of them, I know it must be some of them and there’s a pang of shame, perhaps not for the students right in front of me but students I have known before – students I have asked with my words or my body language: “Who do you think you are?”

In my writing I tend to sound progressive. In my teaching practice I think a lot comes out pretty traditional. I reward compliance. There are times when I insist on quiet, on everyone doing more or less the same thing at the time (briefly, but still). My response to ‘beat-of-their-own-drum’ behaviors can be short and impatient on occasion. Challenges to my authority typically do not go down well, especially when I’m hungry and/or tired. I’m no classroom revolutionary.

I also encounter plenty of kids who are are likely to do anything but “fit the box, fit the mold”. These students are on fire, rambunctious, dizzyingly loud. Or withdrawn, dreamy, and highly selective participants. They catch my attention because they do not just go with the flow or ride the tide – rather they maintain a space of their own, a space apart physically, mentally or both.

I see them but don’t always take the time to really see them.

Rather, I get busy. I’m in the middle of teaching, of managing the classroom. I have all kinds of stuff going on.

If I can step back for a moment, I might be able recognize a kid’s “lightning before the thunder.” If not today, then tomorrow or another day and again.


image CC0 via

2 thoughts on “SOL ’18 Tuesday: Borrowing “Thunder”

  1. Thanks for this really honest assessment of yourself! I get impatient with the same kinds of kids! I want to honour and celebrate the way they stand out and have a little bit of rebellion in them. I also want to get though my lessons!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a reflective, honest post. I wish that I didn’t reward compliance as much, too.

    I also sing along with this song. My son and daughter love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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