The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams by Derek Jeter

TheLifeYouImagineYour students will love to learn life lessons from Yankees superstar Derek Jeter.  His book, The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams shows students how the same program that took Jeter from scrawny eight-year old to World Series champion can help them achieve their dreams.  Here are some tips for using the book in the elementary school classroom.

Chapters of The Life You Imagine delve deeply into life lessons such as “Set Your Goals High.”  The format is ideal for a character-building program that can spread over several months of class discussion.

My sister younger is a diehard Yankees fan with a particular devotion to Jeter.  Back when she was a college student with a flexible schedule, she visited my class for lessons based on Jeter’s book.  We made an event out of it.  My sister wore her Jeter jersey while she read from the book and led discussion.  My students loved taking time to reflect on the big picture.

I recommend that you read the book on your own before sharing with your class.  Highlight or underline the best passages in each chapter.  The book is a little long to read aloud to elementary school students, but many passages will resonate with them.  It’s best to read selections from the book rather than to summarize.  That way, Jeter’s voice comes through.  Hearing this advice from a Yankee rather than a teacher makes a difference.

My students really took the lessons to heart.  They enjoyed recapping what Jeter said and thinking of how to apply his advice to their own lives.

Jeter’s advice to set high goals inspired my students.  Jeter points out that many people try to do well—but not many try to be the best.  That’s insightful.  That’s inspiring.  Watch how hard students work when they are trying to be the best, not just good.  They’ll work to be the top student, not just make the honor roll.  They’ll try to be the best player, not just make the team.

Jeter shows that when you set your sights on being the best, your idea of hard work changes.  You dig deeply and find what you’re really made of, what you really can do.  After reading about Jeter’s constant practice, skill building, and dedication to being the best at everything from schoolwork to sports, it’s hard to slack off.  I think it’s no coincidence that my class that most loved Jeter’s book was also the class that won the district writing contest for their class book.  Those students worked very, very hard on that project.  They put in Derek Jeter-level dedication and saw results.

The lesson that most resonated with my students was “The World is not Fair.”  Much of the chapter describes Jeter’s experience of growing up biracial.  He writes about how he was treated differently when he was out with his black cousins versus his white cousins.  He shares memories of being followed around stores by clerks who suspected he planned to shoplift.  He relates that being biracial sometimes affected how he was treated on the ball field.  All of my students were deeply moved by this.  It made them more aware of unfairness and more committed to helping to make the world fair.

My students were inspired by Jeter’s candid talk of failure.  When he was first drafted to the Yankees, he made 56 errors in spring training.  He worried his career was over before it began.  Luckily, Derek Jeter called on his reserves of inner strength and powered through.  Knowing that Jeter faced failure, that he worked so hard for what he has, inspired my students to overcome their own obstacles.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough!  I hope you and your students enjoy it.

To finish the post, I bring you The Play.  Jeter’s famous flip that was so cool, it doesn’t even need his name in it.   It was amazing!

Posted in Book Reviews,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 15, 2014

 

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