Oh my giddy aunt. I think I’ve had it. I’m done. I quit. I resign, effective immediately. I cannot take it anymore. What’s that you say? I have to still pay bills, rent, and support my family? Well, bollocks. Maybe I should write out my feelings. You know, use my words? Remaining gainfully employed sounds like a good life choice that I would be hammering home to my students a la Mr. Feeny.
There’s this thing on twitter. And it’s a fine thing. There are folks out there in Edu/Teacher Twitter who are consultants, thought leaders, experts, and more. Most of them are not trained educators, some are former teachers, some are current or past administrators. And many of them tweet daily platitudes that are statements on the state of education, teaching, and other things in the world of being a teacher. Often it’s encouragement wrapped in a nudge to buy their book, product, or visit their website. Sometimes it’s laced with their personal pedagogy on how to teach. Other times it’s them railing against what they feel/think/believe is wrong with teaching and how we need to do it this way and not that way because that way harms children and why would you do it that way you backwards cretin.
OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole at the end there, but I hope you get my point/drift, and or pick up on what I’m laying down. There are folks out there who think they know the only way to do the job of teaching and educating the students of today, tomorrow, and forever. And maaaaaaybe they’re right. But I would posit that such a belief in one way only isn’t going to serve the child in the best fashion as they sit in our classrooms. And here’s the fascinating and frustrating thing – when some of these folks are called out for their one way statements, they may reply and say “I agree!”. Yet when you look back at the original statement (not deleted, mind) it’s hard to reconcile the “I agree” with the “Do it only this way and the other way(s) are wrong!”. You think I’m kidding on that last one. This blog post’s impetus was a twitter post from “Tom Loud”
We have gotten student engagement all wrong. True student engagement is not about dancing on tables, entertainment, cotton candy, and lollipops. True student engagement is the result of Rigorous Learning, Heart-to-Heart Conversations, lead by adults who refuse to quit on kids!— тσм ℓσυ∂ (@loudlearning) March 22, 2019
In case it’s been deleted, it reads, “We have gotten student engagement all wrong. True student engagement is not about dancing on tables, entertainment, cotton candy, and lollipops. True student engagement is the result of Rigorous Learning, Heart-to-Heart Conversations, lead by adults who refuse to quit on kids!” I sat in this tweet for a long hot minute or two because I wasn’t sure what the good response would be. I feel like Twitter and most social media has become filled with moments of shame fest in which the ‘wrong’ thinkers, believers, doers, what have you are nearly destroyed because they are wrong, and wrong isn’t right so we need to push back, shame, shut down, and identify them to the world as wrong. And I didn’t want to write something like that – so Tom and friends if you’re reading this – that’s not my aim here.
My aim here is to push back on this ideal of one way, this way, that way – as being the one thing we do in the classroom. But there’s a second level to the this obvious complaint I’m lobbing into the ether of the Ethernet cables – and that is that we have got to change how we label things in Teacher and EduTwitter. Yes, I know. I’m saying there’s one way or the highway. Rain down the hypocritical haranguing from the hippogriffs. But I would argue that this is that one thing we have to change and do as teachers, educators, consultants, and administrators.
We have to be open to the world of possibilities. And that our way is a way.Not the way. There are many future teachers joining up on Twitter and other avenues of social media. We have a duty, a responsibility, and a call to help them build their own toolbox that is unique to their classroom’s needs that are driven by the unique and individual students. We should never (and I know, cue the hippogriff squads) be hawking a franchised toolbox with a logo that’s been standardized. That is the way of the Dark Side, Skywalker. And they may have cookies, but they don’t have your specific student’s needs and characteristics in mind.
I freely admit – I may have gotten something in this screed. I am fallible and imperfect. I tell my students all the time – perfection is an illusion. Trying to hit that very small mark on the stage is the one way to fall on our collective faces. Feel free to hit me up via twitter at @adelayedteacher or use the comment section if you’re so inclined.
If there’s one thing I want folks to remember – there is no one way to do the things in teaching. There are many different ways to teach your students. They will respond to you knowing what they need and what reaches them the best. Beware that concept of the one direction. Listen all you want to One Direction, cause that music is fire. And on that bombshell, you can fight me about it on Twitter.
I’ll see you in the classroom.