In the movie “Grosse Pointe Blank”, John Cusack’s character is meeting up with his high school sweetheart on the eve of their high school reunion. And they have a conversation about what he needs. Minnie Driver’s character suggests he needs a “Shockabuku” which she translates as a spiritual kick to the side of the head that alters your reality – forever. It’s a great film and in my top ten. But it also serves to headline this blog post because I was on the receiving end of a pretty good sized roundhouse. This last weekend was the Colorado Language Arts Society’s annual conference and one of the featured speakers was Dave Stuart, Jr. You can find him on twitter here, and his site is here. I was lucky enough to introduce him to the conference for his afternoon keynote, so I managed to get a few words with him on the side. It was through this conversation with him that I realized change was coming for me and I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
I’ve used this blog since I went back to school in 2014 as a place to process my feelings, my experiences, and my journey. It’s been great. I’ve been able to reconcile plenty of things through writing about it and it’s been a bonus for my friends and fellow students in the program to read through my progress as I’ve stumbled onwards. But there’s been something missing and for the longest time I couldn’t put my metaphorical finger on it. It felt like breakfast without the side of toast. Like a burger without fries. Or a cookie without milk. This whole project was just off by a few. I’ve been wrestling with this for about a year. A professor of mine started me thinking about it when me told me I needed to set myself apart from my fellow educators in the school. I needed to find my unique niche. She suggested it was my love of social media, technology, and all the uses within. It got me thinking, but I didn’t have a path to continue to dig and then pave. Enter Dave.
Dave and I were talking about podcasts. About how first year teachers needs someone or something to encourage them and let them know they’re not alone. That there should be a way to share our stories in a way that brings us together in support of each other but also to hear the stories that echo our own very present struggles. And beyond that – that we need to be working to build bridges to each other in our own communities (city, state) and beyond (throughout the country). And he challenged me to think about doing something along those lines. We spit balled, we brainstormed, and I came away charged, energized, and called out – I need to do something.
And so, the constant process of being a life long learner continues. I’m going to start field testing some podcast “stuff” (the scientific word to describe it, of course) and hitting up both pre-service teachers and teachers for short soundbites or short written testimonies, experiences, and advice. I don’t know if it’ll catch on, I don’t know if it’ll last beyond that first year…but I do know I need go be doing something to encourage student teachers, field experience teachers and teachers. So, if you’re interested, hit me up. Holler here in the comments, holler at my twitter account, or just holler if you’re in the Denver Metro Area. I’ll have more to say on this as this concept lurches forward and it may change as it goes. But it’s something productive, it’s something that can be useful to others, and it’s not just me spending 700 words naval gazing. Those days are (mostly) done. I’ll start restructuring the blog this week and drafting ideas on podcast subjects, lengths and more.
The question I would ask – are you open to a “Shockabuku”? Would you swallow your ego, pride, or whatever and take the kick to the head? Would you allow you reality, your paradigm, your world, your path, your methods, your pedagogy, your systems, your plans, your classroom – everything you hold dear as an educator…would you be OK with those things getting a kick to the head? We are life long learners in the end. And learning is a part of this game called teaching. Sometimes we have to accept that as teachers – we still have a lot to learn.