If you are looking for cool graphic novels or comics to teach, check out my 365 Reviews here.
Getting this teacher blog in for those of you that I know are working on a full belly of chocolate and ham because you are the dreamers (I don’t even know what that means…it just sounds fun).
As some of you know, I have greatly limited my time on social media. I’ve removed most from my phone, and I allow about 30 minutes total per day on my laptop for Twitter and FB. I don’t have a Snapchat (I’m an adult), and I do keep Instagram on my phone to look at cool pics from time to time. Plus, in my opinion, Instagram is the least political, so idiots aren’t boiling my blood as much.
When I do get a chance to scroll good ol’ Twitter though, I can’t help but come across some educators that have the answer. They have the answer to my problems, your problems, most classroom problems from Harlem to San Diego. There’s one huge, obvious problem with that: each classroom in this nation is different.
There are approx. 130,000 schools in this country, and the average school has about 25 classrooms. That’s 3,250,000 classrooms. What?! That’s a big number. Needless to say, there is no right answer to fixing every classroom. Each of our struggles are unique and specific to any number of factors: demographics, class size, location, etc.
I know a lot of educational gurus have the best intentions. But it really bugs me when you can obviously tell that someone has an idea (usually just an old idea with a new name) and pushes it as the fix for education.
I know I have tossed out tips and tricks to help educators deal with problems they might be facing, and I have taken the advice of many educators out in the TW and FB worlds that I’ve incorporated into my classroom. This is where the genuine feedback and change comes from, not “solution books.” Those books feel like the white savior films we see too often, where a white person steps in to solve racism or poverty with the right poem or attitude.
Oh, and never trust an educator on social media that doesn’t look at least a tad bit tired. You know why. There’s something wrong with fresh-faced, totally glammed-out, professional-style, profile pics that got you all like “Hooooowww??!!” It’s like trusting people with a full mouth of really big, pristine, bright white teeth…something ain’t quite right.
We need to understand that to get better at our jobs, we need to take into consideration way more than a $19.99 book about classroom management. That book might help a bit. It might spark a couple of lightbulbs, but to make real systemic change, we need to look everywhere for inspiration and ideas, even our students. Have you asked them what they want or need?
I’ve been traveling the country for quite a few years now, running workshops and panels on many things, mostly comics and their effectiveness in the classroom, but only recently I’ve realized that I’ve never asked the teachers that have been coming to our sessions the types of topics they would like to see at our panels or workshops. Heck, I’ve only recently started asking my students what they’d like to see/read and what types of assessments/assignments they’d like to complete. And I ask each and every semester because people, kids, times, technology…change.
If I ever write a book, it will not be a solution. It will be a chose your own adventure. It will be a cook book of activities and ideas. It will be be practical. And you know what? It will not be based in any core standards. Because if we are doing what we need to be doing, it’s going to hit those standards. Good teaching and learning do that.
So yeah, I’ve started compiling educator emails, and I’ve started creating a survey to see what types of PD teachers would like to see our our panels and presentations. There’s a reason that my collective currently has over 35 different panels that we offer: each part of this country is different, and we will not assume to know the answers to your specific classroom problems. But we can help you explore ideas and possibly give you some tools.
And if you are looking to increase your own creative thinking when it comes to classroom planning and management, I’m going to suggest you check out a cool Netflix doc (only 50 minutes) on creativity I recently saw: The Creative Brain. I got something out of it, and I hope you will too. Let me know what you think!
Enjoy your day. Get some rest. The end of the school year is right around the corner. And remember, if you are having problems in your classroom, we all are. Let’s try to fix them together!