This Third Grade Teacher's Inspiring Call-And-Response Lesson Already Went Viral, But She's Only Begun To "Push Through"

This Third Grade Teacher's Inspiring Lesson Already Went Viral, But She's Only Begun To 'Push Through'

One fall morning, Jasmyn Wright walked into her third grade classroom at Frederick Douglass Elementary in Philadelphia with two words running through her head: "push through."

The words had come to her the day before as she was making her lunch and getting ready for school. "It's gonna sound weird, but the words were just playing in my head," she tells A Plus in a phone interview.  So, Wright began her lesson that day by calling out a single question: "What if it's too hard?" She instructed her 28 students to respond, "I'm gonna push through."  

With Wright's background in spoken word poetry and seven years of teaching experience, the phrase "push through" came to her as a natural artistic response to the everyday challenges she and her students face, from reading and comprehending lengthy texts, to dealing with discrimination. 

Over the next few days, Wright continued her call-and-response lesson with more specific questions based on the conversations she heard in class. Her chant included such questions as, "What if it's too tough?" "What if it's too rough?" "What if there are too many words?" To every question, the students would respond, "I'm gonna push through." 

After filming the lesson and putting the video on Facebook November 9, the chant went viral and is now inspiring millions.

She has seen the overwhelming impact the lesson has had on the way her students interact with each other and, perhaps more importantly, how they view themselves. "I want them to know that they are bigger than any adversity that life presents them with," Wright told A Plus. "... I want them to know that there are others who have pushed through, and so, since they did it, then they can do it, too. They have to keep going because they have to be an example for someone else, whether it's a sibling or a child or a friend. Someone is watching their strength, and someone needs their strength to make themselves better, to help themselves get through." 

Understandably, she wants her two favorite phrases — "push through" and "I can do anything I put my mind to" — to stay with her students, and the rest of the world, long after the school year ends.

“They're so significant because it encourages children to encourage themselves,” she says. “It's something that they can use when they want to get through something on their own when I'm not around or their parents aren't around, or whoever is their source of support isn't around. Those are words they can use to let them know they can succeed.”

Wright is a product of her own self-determined teaching — and an irreplaceable support system: her parents. "They are both my main source, my outlet when I feel like I can't push through," she says. Her father taught her the importance of surrounding herself with only the people who can and want to accept her for who she is. 

Wright inherited her love of words from her poet mother, who taught her the power in repeating different positive affirmations like "Life is only 10 percent of what happens and 90 percent of how you respond." 

But it wasn't just her mother's words that stuck with Wright. "I would see it in her actions as well," she said. "You can say all the words you want, but you have to show... that your words really work." "

Long before her "push through" chant went viral, Wright made sure her words were working every day too. When her students walked into her classroom, they knew they were entering a place where everyone is entitled to experience and express their feelings. 

Wright with a class of students in Spelman College shirts, where she received her undergraduate degree. 

Like her mother showed Wright with her actions, Wright imparts this same lesson to her students. "I'll express to them how I feel," she says. "And I do that only to let them ... see that it's not going to stop me from doing my job well, giving my all to them."

Now, Wright plans to give her all to countless others. With one viral video already checked off this year's curriculum, she hopes to create a larger "Push Through" movement. While still "in the works," the movement may take the form of a campaign, non-profit organization, or social movement, according to Wright. "I've gotten such a positive, global reaction from people ... all over the world, literally, who have shared their stories with me in my personal Facebook inbox about how this has encouraged them to push through their challenges," she says. "I just know I want to help people push through their adversities ... I want to help be the voice of the disadvantaged, to help people get through anything that's going on." 

One thing's for sure, when Wright puts her mind to something, there's nothing she can't do. 

Jasmyn Wright appeared on the TODAY Show and taught the anchors a personalized "push through" chant.

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