Justin Timberlake is Going to Make Me a Better Teacher

Friday, May 16, 2014

     So, I have put it out there before that I am obsessed with reading gurus.  I do not limit myself to just the educational world, though.  Inspiration comes from all places.  

     In this case, it's Justin Timberlake.  

     I saw these videos on Facebook, and immediately thought of my job as a literacy coach.  Even though he is referring to the life of a performer, so many of his references can relate directly to that of the work we do in the classroom.  Hard work is something we can all relate too.  

      Just today, I read a Google + post by +Sue Butler about Growth Mindsets.  It came with the graphic below.  So much about having a PLN is to embrace change, but not alone.  We all are adapting and changing, for both our students and for ourselves.  The goal is for our students to grow, but in order for them to do that we need a growth mindset ourselves.  Challenges are here.  How can we embrace them?

     In my case, Justin Timberlake helped.  This week I struggled a bit.  Let's blame it on the week of rain.  But, here I am, on a Friday night, surfing Facebook because I am just too tired to get up.  And Justin appeared to inspire me.  

***I apologize if you are not a musical fan of his.  If that is the case, perhaps read on with the quote excerpts rather than watching the videos.  

The first clip is about how he likes being a beginner.  

"To be a master of something, it takes a long time at a high level.   It really does.  To me, the way to do that is to always be a beginner.  
Do something different.  Even within the same medium.
Try new things.  
I like being a beginner.   I like the moment where I can look at everyone and say I have no idea how to do this.  Let's figure it out.
To always be the novice is exciting to me.
And be thankful for it."

     Thank goodness it is ok to feel like a beginner.  I feel like I am a beginner all the time.  I just didn't realize that I should just embrace it and be thankful for it until Justin calmly told me to do so.  Thank you, Justin. 

     In all seriousness, though, he's right.  Not in that we need to learn everything new all the time, but that each lesson we teach we should start with a new beginning.  We have so many tools as educators, and we always need to look at each situation and not be afraid to do something different.  Use what we know, but not be afraid to learn something new.  Lean on each other in the process, and know that 
we can be a master of something if we approach it like a beginner every time.  

There is always something new to learn, and that can make us great.

This clip is about hard work.

"The idea that if you put more than 100%... Put in 115%...  There's a good chance you'll get back somewhere in the 90's.
Something worth having is worth putting all of yourself into it.  Practice.  Rehearsal.  Working on it when no one is looking.  Getting comfortable in it.  So that when you step on that stage you are ready, and can literally forget all of that and be in the moment."

     This seems like such a metaphor for teachers.  Everyday, we put in 115%.  There is so much we do as teachers for our class.  We listen.  We teach.  We care.   We feed.   We help.  We teach a little more. We will never get back 115%, but we knew that going in.  And we still do it.  

     The part about putting all of ourself into it really got to me, though.  I thought about all the new components of workshop model, and how I have found myself being much more deliberate and thoughtful in my delivery this year.  I have practiced (in my mind) a lot.  I am trying to get comfortable enough to coach others to be comfortable, too.  The goal is to be RESPONSIVE to the kids, and the more we practice, the better we get, and the more comfortable we are, the more we can respond to our students'  needs.  

     I want to be a teacher who can help a kid learn in the moment.  In order to do that, I need to work hard.  I need to allow myself to be a beginner, and learn the new things I need to get them there.  I need to believe that I will get there and become the teacher I want to be. 

     But above all else?  

     I need to listen to some Justin Timberlake!  It's Friday!  I gave 115% all week.  Now I get to relax and recharge.  Perhaps some JT will do that.   :)  

Open Doors

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Is the grass always greener on the other side of the hallway?  
     That is a question that requires an open door to find out!

     This post is to celebrate those open doors around our district.  In the past year, I have learned so much from just walking through the door and going into the classrooms in D100.  No matter which room I walk in, I always find something new to walk out with and spread to others.  

     Take today, for example.  I walked into Allison LaFalce's room at Komensky.  She was in the middle of Genius Hour, where her 4th graders get to pick any topic they would like to learn more about and they research it and create something to share with their classmates.  I walked around the room today, and saw kids researching and creating everything from The Statue of Liberty, how perfume was invented, soccer rules, making a video game, and experiments you would find in a science lab.  I was blown away when I walked up to one young man, and he said that he chose to research how Adolf Hitler rose to power.  When I asked why, he said that he had started with WWII, but then he realized that Hitler was responsible for it, and he wanted to know why.  The girl next to him was researching why people have bad breath.  Clearly, they picked things that interested THEM.  You can't get more motivation and student engagement than kids truly picking, researching, and creating things that interest them!

     As the year closes up, and the F&P testing comes to an end, I encourage you all to look across the hall.  Notice some of the great things that your colleagues are doing, and perhaps try some of those things out with your kids.  Or, invite people in to see the great things you are doing!  If you do, please send me an email.  I would love to come to your room.  :)