Yesterday was STRESSFUL. Long story short, I had 10 (TEN) colleagues in my room taking the Google level 1 or 2 certification. Because they were logged in with their Google exam account (instead of their district account), YouTube and Google Sites were blocked by our district web filter. We figured out a solution, but it was a nerve-wracking three hours for all involved. We probably won't test under district wifi again!
But in the end, most teachers passed their exam! What stood out to me was their growth mindset and desire to push their teaching philosophy forward. It was a fabulous end, to a long week, that was full of inspiration! One day last week a tweet popped up in my feed with a TED video. I'd never seen the video before, and when I opened it, it was from February 2006 (as I am student teaching and preparing for college graduation). I found this video to be efficacious and inspirational.
Wow! There's a LOT here. What spoke to me was...
- Creativity is as important as literacy. Yes, we want our students to be well-spoken and well-read. But we can't scare them away from what they are passionate about. What they are excited about has meaning and has a purpose. If we do not allow our students to be creative and take chances, we will never come up with anything new and original. I liken this to Snapchat. Who knew, eight years ago, that people would use a messaging platform that sent pictures. And these pictures would disappear after a period of time. You could add filters and text to become a storyteller. Or professional snowboarding. Five years ago, you could win a competition with back to back 720s. Then it was back to back 1080s. Now back to back 1440s. As more snowboarders take chances (and fall in the process), the sport will continue to change and evolve, and push the limits of a human body. But if you tell a kid that taking pictures, or snowboarding, is not as important as doing math, these results will never happen.
- Degrees are no longer worth anything. A degree used to ensure a job after graduation. Now, it doesn't. Now you need an MA or Ph.D. to get the same position. Instead of "preparing" every student for college, prepare them for what they want to do! Some jobs require on-the-job training or maybe a two-year degree from community college. We have to stop telling EVERY student to go to college. Instead, we need to listen more and help guide and facilitate them to their goal.
- Intelligence is diverse, dynamic, and distinct. I am a great example of this. I was a good student in school, but I was always the "dumb" of the smart kids. I could play the game of school, but I wasn't learning anything. I knew I wanted to teach history because I wanted to SEE students learn (not lecture them to death). The longer I taught, the more strategies I learned and the more creative I became. The more creative I became, the more my students learned. I started to find my passion and creativity with technology and found what I am really good at. I am more creative (and intelligent) now than I ever was as a student, or even when I first started teaching. It just took me awhile to find who I was as a teacher, to educate my whole being.
- Human beings are different and diverse. That means our curriculum ALSO needs to be varied and diverse. Students should not sit, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work. Students should be up and be moving while they are learning. I feel like this idea connects to Teach Like a Pirate with all of the "hook" options. How can we hook our different and diverse students?
- If there is no learning going on... there's no education going on. You must discuss LEARNING when you talk about teaching! What are the outcomes? What do you want the students to KNOW? How will you know that they know?
- Students are creative. We've beat creativity over time. It is challenging to get eighth-grade students to be creative when they haven't had to be creative in nine years. How do we do that? How can we engage, provoke, and stimulate our students? Find their passion. Right now, their focus may be their cell phone. What is it about their phone that is engaging and exciting? Is there any way that you can bring those ideas into your curriculum? And it doesn't have to be about gamifying the classroom! How can you get students to create, design, modify, and improve?
- If you are going to lead, lead. Be visible to the students, whether that's in the hallway or the classroom or at events. The students should know who you are if you are a leader. Students don't have to necessarily like you, but they do need to respect you. They should see you as someone they want to be in the future. If you are transparent in your interactions and challenge students to be who they are meant to be, they will see you as a leader. As a leader, surround yourself with people that think like you and support students like you, but also challenge your ideas. With your fellow leaders, figure out the fundamental "stuff" and what the students require.
- So what. Now what? No more excuses. Teachers say that they never have enough time. It is unfortunate to admit that there are only 24 hours in a day, so there will never be more time. What are you spending your time doing? Could your time be better spent elsewhere? No more excuses. Be solution-oriented and then ASK for change.
- If nobody told you that they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will. Love your kids. Love who they are now so that you can admire them in the future. Believe in them and believe in their possibilities. Only look at what they can become and let that drive your love for your students. Students want to feel special. You can do that by listening to them and allowing that support to guide your curriculum, your interactions, and your mindset.