My daughter has been a list maker for all of her 20 years where she was old enough to create lists. Having what she needs to accomplish for a day, week, or month written succinctly in list fashion where she can check it off is what she needs to be successful. My own daily life at school has been so busy that at times I’ve not only had to make my own lists of task to accomplish, but I’ve also included “go to the bathroom” on the list so that I didn’t forget during the busyness of my prep period. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences (except for maybe the bathroom part).
You read that correctly. Hungry chicken. Obviously you aren’t literally a chicken, hungry or otherwise, so I have a professional development metaphor for you based on a summer full of conferences, vacations, ballgames, unplugged vs plugged in (is that the opposite of unplugged?) debate, family time, rest, growth, more, less, etc. You get the picture. Everyone does it differently, and there’s always more than one way to do things. One size does not fit all, certainly, and there is no judgement here.
With the movement of student voice and choice echoing throughout the Edusphere (I hope I’m the first to make up/use that word, but probably am not), many districts, buildings, administrators, and teachers are pondering how to balance this with all of the other changes in the air. Let’s push our thinking a bit and see how student voice can be amplified in our hiring and firing process.
A debate recently cropped up on Twitter (shocking) about whether or not “good” teachers spend time thinking about the next school year while on summer break. The debate really centered around the concept of a “good” teacher. One side mentioned that a good teacher might spend some time thinking about next fall. Others declared that good teachers need the time off to rejuvenate and regenerate their passion for education by resting, relaxing, traveling, and spending time with family. I’m not actually going to try to settle this debate, but I am going to challenge both groups. My last post, The Danger of Getting Comfy in Our EDU Skins, I explored ways to grow yourself and get out of that place where we are, well, comfortable.
My blog is called Rockin’ The Boat for a reason. The status quo always brings out my oppositional defiant muscle, which I flex often. As I became a connected educator these past two years, I began to see and learn things that would benefit my students. My oppositional defiant muscle (ODM) began to twitch. The most challenging was changing my high school classroom into flexible seating. In the biggest hurdle I’ve faced is my own mindset, and that’s a work in progress. Has every one accepted changes I’m making for students? No. The problem may be that we as educators tend to get comfortable in our educational skin. We often let our ODM atrophy when it comes to the EDU status quo so that everything that takes us out of our routine is viewed as a threat. That, my friends, is a danger to our growth, creativity, and innovation. It’s summer, or nearly for most of us, so that means it’s time to get into shape. EDU shape. ODM shape.
This post was inspired by the sermon my preacher, Jeff Wofford, gave this morning, which had me thinking of it’s applications beyond the church. Jeff’s point was that we tend to want our church to be filled with members who are like ourselves, and that should not be the goal. Diversity reaches more people. When I refer to diversity in this post, I am not limiting it to mean racial or cultural diversity. Nope. I’m also referring to personalities, interests, and abilities of my students within my classes and within our schools. Our members are those who enroll in our schools and take our classes. Are we celebrating their differences in order to cultivate unity? Uniformity is not unity. We have to do better for teachers and students.
I’ve been out of my classroom more than usual this year. Besides the round of sickness that dropped me flat in mid March, I have presented at more conferences, proctored the ACT and our state exam for English 2, doctor appointments, and you get the picture. That being said, I do not like to be away from my classes. Ever. But it happens. So while preparing sub plans last week, I had an epiphany.
My #4OCF Voxer group recently discussed the dilemma of perception. The old adage that one bad apple spoils the bunch seemed to permeate our thoughts as we pondered, debated, and discussed. Here’s the skinny that we collectively decided, for now. We might revisit the topic later, as we tend to do, and push the boundaries of our thinking, but for now, here’s how we see the perception that if students are having fun, learning must not be present.