By: Matt Moulton
Hi all! My name is Matt. I am an assistant professor and Undergraduate Teacher Education Program Coordinator for the Center for Educator Prep at Colorado State University. I love my job, especially when it involves being in middle schools and amongst young adolescents. I am brand new to Colorado, Fort Collins, and CAMLE and I am so honored to hold my position at CSU, be a board member for CAMLE, and teach a class for future teachers at Boltz Middle School in Fort Collins.
My students recently started their official middle school practicum experience. Our class has met for the past four weeks in the Boltz media center, we have heard from plenty of folx from the school, witnessed loads of middle schoolers jumping to touch the door frame as they walk through it, and talked a lot about community and its importance in the middle grades. We have talked about Bishop and Harrison’s Successful Middle School: This We Believe Essential Attributes, looked for evidence of their incorporation in the school hallways, and tried to apply them to Trey Kennedy’s YouTube videos with his character Maddox. Worth a watch with a grain of salt. It was hilarious, but purposeful and informative.
Another focus revolved around the Key Characteristic of “Leaders demonstrate courage and collaboration.” When considering courage and collaboration, I immediately thought of Korg and Miek.
These two heroes were introduced on film in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Korg and Miek are reluctant gladiators who have been taken captive and forced to fight opponents for The Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum. Korg is made of perishable rock and Miek is an insect with scissors for hands. Korg does all the (hilarious) talking and Miek is always ready to have Korg’s back.
To cut a long story short, the two are freed as part of a revolution and escape on a giant spaceship. They join Thor and fight to save the people of Asgard from undead warriors in an epic battle on a bridge. Courage and collaboration abound.
At the end of the movie, Thor sits upon his throne in the spaceship and wonders where they should venture. Thor turns to Miek, who at this point is being carried by Korg, and asks “Miek, where are you from?”
Korg responds, “Ah, Miek’s dead. I accidently stomped on him on the bridge. I just felt so guilty that I have been carrying him around all day.”
Then, to Korg’s joy and excitement, Miek shakes awake. Here is a clip: Thor Ragnarok / Miek is dead scene.
I love it. This might be a bit too inside but I see it relating to courage and collaboration.
Some days we are Korg. We are made of rock–perishable rock, but rock none the less. We face the day’s challenges, we overcome the battles, we maintain a feeling of humor, joy, and possibility amongst the struggles and challenges of our jobs. We see others having a hard time. We pick them up and carry them.
Other days, we are Miek. We might be emotionally, figuratively, physically, and interpersonally stomped on. We might be at the end of our rope and in need of supports we don’t even know how to vocalize. We need someone to carry us.
I shared all this with my teacher candidates. I provided them an example of when I was the Miek in need of being carried. I named my Korg that carried me amidst the hard time. I promised to be a Korg when needed.
They all laughed.
But, some got it. Some turned to a trusted neighbor, looked them in the eye and said “I will be your Korg.”
I went on to share that middle school students learn so much from their teachers that doesn’t come in the form of a practice problem, a paper, or a formative assessment. They learn how to be active and responsible adults. When middle school students see trusted adults come alongside colleagues and supporting each other when in need, they begin to emulate that same courage and collaboration with their peers. They are always learning.
Sometimes that learning comes with a bit of whimsy and an off the wall example from a Marvel movie. Sometimes it comes from the way you give time and patience with each other.