Amazing things happen when you play ALONGSIDE students in Minecraft. One such thing happened to me, and it wasn’t even my student.

My Minecraft Club plays after school. Sometimes, we are alone in the Multi-School server world, and sometimes other school and library groups are present, doing their own things. A couple of new names appeared on the list of in-game players on this particular afternoon. I was making a house with three of my own students when I noticed one of the new players (“K”) type in chat that they were in “home school”, which meant “they were dumb”. (For our non-Ontario readers, a “Home School Program”, or HSP, provides 1/2 day educational support for students who need it – an explanation by the Toronto District School Board can be found here.) I jumped into chat right away to respond. I can’t recall exactly what I wrote during this initial exchange; I think I asked if K’s HSP teacher was nice, because our HSP class at my school was full of cool kids and nice teachers. Anyway, this new player and I started to explore the Multi-School world together. I teleported to K and we wandered around together. K had tons of great questions and obviously knew quite a lot about Minecraft. When we were examining the various portals we have that lead to different spaces on the server, K noticed that the doorways were not just made of obsidian blocks. I was able to catch this exchange between us using the camera in my phone. (For some reason, I can’t get the screen shot function to work on my Macs at school.) I edited the photo to protect K’s privacy.



This was just a short conversation, but I’d like to think that this boosted K’s self-worth in ways that might not happen in “regular” school, or in typical interactions between teacher and student. K and I explored a bit more until my club time was over. When we all said our goodbyes, K wanted to know what school I was at (not K’s, unfortunately) and when we could get back on the Minecraft Multi-School server together next time. I think we made a connection – I know I liked being with K in-game. This was an arena where K can be successful, an equal, and have fun. This is why I believe that it is crucial for teachers to play WITH their students and parents to play WITH their children. If you aren’t there, you’ll miss a lot … including the opportunity to build something much more important than a house out of virtual blocks – a child’s self-esteem, or a fruitful relationship.