It’s Friday morning. But not just any Friday morning. It’s THAT Friday morning, the one that caps off the end of what has possibly been the longest week in your professional teaching career. The one where it’s also raining and you’re certain there’s a full moon (even though you can’t see it) because your students have managed to find your absolutely last good nerve before 9:00am. It’s the Friday morning after the Thursday night when you stayed up until 2:00am tweaking the greatest lesson of all time so you’re now operating on 3 hours of sleep and a Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte with an extra shot of espresso just hoping you make it through the day. The Friday morning when your most “favorite” student arrives to class and loudly asks for the 33rd time, “Why do I need to learn [insert subject] anyway? I’m never going to use this in the real world!”
Any of this sound familiar?
Of all the questions my students ever asked me, THAT was the most annoying and frustrating. Why? Because after a while you start to run out of answers that make sense, even to you. I love Shakespeare. I wanted my kids to love Shakespeare but you ask me when they’ll ever use Shakespeare “in the real world” I got nothing. And I know I’m not alone. In classrooms across America, in yours, in mine, there’s almost always at least one student staring at the teacher (or more frequently his or her cellphone) questioning what ANY of whatever we’re teaching has to do with their life in the present or future. And if we’re honest, that’s a really good question. An even better question, however, isn’t so much the “what” we’re teaching but the “how” we’re teaching it.
And that’s why I’m writing this blog.
It’s time to interrupt pedagogy as usual.
There Will Always Be A More Excellent Way. Be the One to Find It.
I came across this snapshot on Twitter a few days ago and it made me immediately stop scrolling. Notice anything interesting? The skills that students need to have mastered by 2020 have moved up and down the top 10 list from 2015. But look at #3. Where was it listed on the 2015 list? #10. Where is on the 2020 list? #3. According to the Future of Jobs Report, creativity ranks higher than judgment and decision making, service orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility, the ability to think of things in a different way, wasn’t even on the list for 2015. So, what does this mean? We have to look at HOW we teach what we teach a little differently. If we don’t prepare our students for 2020 and beyond who will?
Have you ever seen the mugs, tee shirts, notebooks, wall hangings, etc. that say “Teachers make all other professions possible?” Well, it’s true. Especially now.
So, yes this blog is about teaching, and how to teach, but it’s also about getting out of the box, your comfort zone, whatever you choose to call it, and disturbing your universe. If you look at the tag line for my blog, it says “There Will Always Be A More Excellent Way. Be the One to Find It.” This is my way of encouraging you to try things you’ve never tried before in an effort to reach your students so: 1) they are ready for 2020 and beyond and 2) you never have to hear “When will I ever use this in real life” ever again.
Each Monday, I’ll be here sharing suggestions, ideas, and questions designed to encourage you to take that jar of creativity off the shelf and actually use it again. I will always leave you with a “Point to Ponder” which is for your reflective purposes, but you can always share in the comments below (This is a safe space).
I know there are a dozen reasons why you might be hesitant to even to give this a shot but I’m not asking you to take a leap of a cliff. I’m asking you to do what we ask our students to do every day. Try.
And away we go!
Point to Ponder:
What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to try in your classroom but never have?