The ideas and innovations that arise might be inspired by a post that you saw as you casually scrolled through Twitter, Facebook, Insta, or another social media site. It could be an "a-ha" epiphany as you were standing over your BBQ grill and in a moment of zen inspiration discovered the perfect way to present your project for Unit 2.
Whatever the ideas are, I wanted to throw one more out there...
Be Humble. Challenge your students to speak honestly about your classroom and teaching.
Brene Brown, Kim Scott, and many other corporate coaches write, podcast, present, and talk about vulnerability as the means for an effective and efficient team. My thought is why not a classroom as well. Considering that the relationship that you build over the next 180 days is going to take that student through some impactful learning and life experiences, I'd say you have a pretty great opportunity to get to know them. Why not give them the freedom to talk honestly to you.
Here's what you could do:
After your first mid-term, quarter, six weeks marker, take a class period to allow students to create an "Honest Trailer" about your classroom.
What is an honest trailer? Check these out:
The activity doesn't have to be a trailer...
Honest Trailer, Classroom Critique, Teacher Evaluation, whatever you want to call it, create an environment where students can be honest with you and your teaching. This is not meant to be a personal shot at you and your abilities, but an OPPORTUNITY to GROW as a teacher, BE BETTER for your students and BUILD immense RAPPORT with your students.
If students can be honest with you on your teaching, and you can be honest with them about their learning, what barriers do you have that would hold students back from being successful?
Don't be the teacher that doesn't grow...be the teacher that surprises their students by their willingness to be vulnerable and excited about the feedback that comes!
As teachers, we are constantly learning...
The question is are you learning from pop culture?
The world that your students are ingrained in is outside of your classroom. Shocker I know.
But think about the learning that you could implement through inspiration of some of pop culture's most consistent icons.
In the most recent bit of "Hashtags" by Jimmy Fallon, he simply challenges social media to add one word to a title to change it. Couldn't this be brought into any curriculum challenging students to experience higher order thinking? Add a word to a book title, add an element to an equation. What could happen if they were able to do it and add humor to the learning. Making it stick more?
James Corden's carpool Karaoke is legendary. What if there was a way to have students replicate this with curriculum, presenting their ideas about what could be done. Even more, the relationship and connection of a team building/creating.
John Spencer just released an awesome video about the importance of critical consumption to fuel creativity. What could you do that would provide your students with the specific consumption that can fuel the creativity?
Stephen Colbert provides the best example of this. He comes into his shows prepared with the knowledge to back up the jokes he is adding. Many times he is providing a lighter, funnier thought process for some of the political decisions that are being made.
The point is, find inspiration all around you! There are professors all over the place!
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
What will your job be in 6 months?
What are you going to be eating for dinner tonight?
When you think about vision-casting, are you considering the potential of what could be or are you letting the pessimistic voice in your head hold you back?
Writer Seth Goodin talks in great deal in his book Lynchpin about our "lizard brain". This is the part of the brian that brings that "Can't Do" attitutde to our ideas.
We may be really excited about the potential of a new idea, tool or strategy, but our lizard braing comes in and brings out all of the reasons why it wouldn't work. The best vision of the lizard that I have is Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live. Excitement and passion can be born out of an idea, but when the lizard brain, or the downer of the group get a hold if it, the adrenaline wears off and the negative pieces pull the optimism out of the room. Like an air mattress with a tiny hole, slowly lowering it's occupant to the floor, the vision slinks away.
Yet as a Catalyst, we must be more than this blah feeling that robs us of the great ideas. As a catalyst, a linchpin or any other illustration there needs to be a means of seeing what could come beyond the struggle. Erwin McManus spoke in one of his sermons to "Lean into the fear".
When you are vision-casting for your group, school, department, or self, push your ideas beyond the comfortable. The only way to get stronger is to push your muscles as hard as they can go, so that tomorrow they can go farther.
To effectively Vision-cast there are 3 main pillars (for now) that you need to focus on:
1. What do you do really well?
2. What do you suck at?
3. Where do you want to be?
Vision-Casting can be focused on where you want to be, but if you don't knowwhat you are good at, you can get lost really quickly.
What do you do really well?
The key is being honest. What are you actually REALLY good at. What does your people thrive in. What gets them excited to the point where they can self monitor and grow independently?
What do you suck at?
Writing what are you bad at doesn't get the point across. We have a predisposition to always try to make ourselves in the best light. Our defensive mindset moves us in a way to find the good that we do. The truth is we all suck at something, the sooner we are honest about it the quicker you can innovate and get excited about what changes can come!
Where do you want to be?
If there wasn't a constraint, a money issue, a personnel issue, what would you want to do! You never will know unless you ask the question. Our vision needs to be something that is out of our grasp so that we never stop reaching for it. Don't vision-cast for next week...cast for what isn't quite yet. Change the world by being a pioneer, not a cog in the machine.
I will be presenting at TCEA on being a #Catalyst, at TCEA in February. Keep an eye out on twitter (Follow @taylorhwilliams) for more information.
There is a reason that this is one of the top 10 most watched TED talks of all time. Sinek brings to the light something so simple, yet something that can be so difficult at the same time.
Think about your classroom. Your standards, objectives, lesson plans and resources (or lack there of). The goal is to teach these students, show mastery of the standards and in most cases, prepare your students for the state standardized test that is coming. My question, or really THE question of this post is... Are those the reasons WHY you became a teacher?
My story is a round about way of coming into education. My plan was to work in full time ministry, teaching and pastoring. I really enjoyed working with the local kids, planning events, and getting my first real "classroom" experience with a crowd that chose to show up, rather than being forced. And yet I digress... I am sharing my HOW to you.
As a youth pastor, my why was simply love others. Be the love in the community that the students hadn't experienced before. The love that was taught through the Bible and experienced in many different Hows.
As life (and the Lord) works though, this was not my ending point of my career. Quickly, with a new wife in tow, we moved to Hong Kong to become teachers at a Christian school. My beautiful bride, the experienced SpED teacher and myself the ultra green "teacher". Stakes were higher, and I think my Why shifted to a simple why not. Adventure, travel, and risk were all on the table, so simply "why not" became my why.
Low and behold, events and opportunities arise and years later I am shifted out of the classroom to my current career path. As I have grown as an educator, innovator, speaker, and writer, I believe that my why has also grown with me.
When you decided to become a teacher, it wasn't about the standards, it was about the relationships. Maybe it was a favorite principal, teacher or coach that made such an impact on you, you wanted to be just like them. Perhaps you watched Stand and Deliver or The Dead Poets Society, or School of Rock and wanted to experience the euphoria when students grasp the perfectly crafted lessons that you create.
And then you step into your classroom and those around you wish you luck, push you some worksheets, and warn you to watch out for the boy in third period.
My point is that finding your why will constantly change, as an individual, it can be difficult, especially if you have been deeply rooted in a profession for a long time. The hope is that as your break down your history and examine your future, you would be able to filter your Why out of the soot and own it proudly.
Finding your why isn't a part of what you do. It is everything. As Sinek explains in his TED talk, without a why, you, your school, your classroom and students don't have direction, they are simply there, watching the clock tick by.
What is your Why?
At TCEA 2019 I will be presenting #Catalyst: A workshop to spark innovation. During this session we will not only dive deeper into these concepts but also walk away with a process and resources on how to find your why and more! Come join me in San Antonio in February!