I’m a fairly narcissistic fellow. I don’t mean to be, it’s just that I’m vain and self-absorbed. At least I have the skills, style, and cojones to make it work for me. I make no apologies; every rose has it’s - oh, are you still here? I hadn’t noticed.
There’ve been a slew of books and workshops in recent years promising to help you teach like a pirate, like a rockstar, like a hero… I received something rather spammy recently promising to help me become a more exciting presenter and unlock a fabulous career leading teacher workshops. Just call Robert in Wisconsin at ###-###-####!
I’m not knocking any of these books or workshops. I haven’t read or attended any of them, but I see happy teachers carrying on about them on Twitter and such… they sound great.
Except the one with Robert in Wisconsin. WTF, Bob?
It’s just that I don’t want to be a pirate, or a rockstar, or a hero. I want my kids to learn a little history, ask some better questions, and maybe learn to like reading a little. And I want to do it as… me.
I’m pretty entertaining, and I have a degree. That should buy me some leeway, yes?
Of course, you don’t need to buy books or go to conferences to hear how you should be doing everything differently. There are no shortage of researchers scolding us for forcing our kids to recite from their McGuffey’s Readers and practice multiplication tables on their chalk slates, or whatever it is they think we do.
Seriously, if I read one more heavily-footnoted interview with yet another person who’s discovered that worksheets have limited effectiveness and some people are boring when they lecture, I may become violent. Can we steer some of the funding for these redundant studies into something more useful – maybe fresh blue ink for the mimeograph machine or another History Channel Documentary on VHS?
They’re not all bad, of course. Many make some fascinating observations and connections. They challenge us to reconsider some of our assumptions about kids and how they learn, or ourselves and how we teach.
I’m a huge fan of rethinking what we do in our classrooms. I make a decent living leading workshops and peddling my teaching philosophy, sometimes for edu-entities and sometimes just as lil’ ol’ me. We should ABSOLUTELY step out of our comfort zones from time to time. It’s unforgiveable to plan our class time around what we have saved from LAST year rather than what might work best with THESE kids THIS year.
And there are some GREAT teacher books! That ‘Weird Teacher’ one and that 'Zen' fellow and even one by a TFA teacher recounting her entire first year in the most IMPOSSIBLE situation. Occasionally I’m even inspired by something shared by state edu-staff, or my own district superiors. Turns out there are a bunch of really smart, experienced educators around who love helping the rest of us impact our evasive darlings.