Don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up.

I think I must be dreaming, because today, I got to teach a Harry Potter lesson to the kids at school.

Let me back up. It’s the last week of school, and with sixth grade graduation on Thursday and – unlike most middle and high schools – no final exams to worry about, this week is an exercise in finding something for the kids to do. One thing we came up with is to get the 4th through 6th graders together for a movie and then plan a special lesson around it. As you might have guessed, that movie was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and as the resident Harry Potter nerd, I got to be in charge of it.

I suggested making it a character education lesson based on the Hogwarts houses, circling back to how they started the year (with character education, not Hogwarts). We talked about the virtues of each house, with emphasis on the idea that everyone has different strengths, but everyone’s strengths are important. In the case of Slytherin, we talked about positive ambition and holding yourself to high standards, versus selfish ambition and taking what you want at any cost. They then wrote a paragraph about which house they thought they would be in, while I helped those that were not sure or weren’t very familiar with Harry Potter.

Did I agree with all of their self-assessments? No. But then again, Hogwarts houses are about what you aspire to be even more than what you are. I think it was definitely a worthwhile project to do. They all got a chance to think, first of all, about what it means to be a good person. Just as importantly, they got to take a look at their own best qualities and strongest values, and what they bring to the table. Hopefully they also learned to appreciate each others’ strengths a little more. A child who is kind to others and a loyal friend is just as important as one who is athletic, does well academically, or is a natural leader among their peers.

We had about as many kids pick Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff as Gryffindor, which I see as a sign that the message got through. Only a few picked Slytherin, and I didn’t try to dissuade them from doing so. Instead, I thanked them for their honesty and emphasized that ambition, turned toward positive goals, could take them far.

The kids loved it. Most of them are Harry Potter fans, anyway, and I think even those few that weren’t ended up enjoying it. As for me, I still don’t believe this is real life. Surely, in just a few minutes, I’ll wake up and find out that it was all just a dream. But for now, please don’t pinch me. I want to enjoy this.

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