Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 88- Future Reflections and Other Nonsense

As it is the final #WeirdEd of 2015 we must look back and look ahead. There's nothing I can do about this. It's in the edchat bylaws which all chat moderators must sign in blood before beginning their chat. However, I've found a loophole. The bylaws say we must reflect and look forward at the end of every year BUT they do not specify to and from which years the reflecting and forward looking must go. 

So let's get weird on this. I'm going to skip 2016 and pretend it's the end of next year. We'll look back on the previous year (which hasn't actually happened yet, are you keeping up?) and reflect on how it went. See? It's like we're looking forward by looking backward. And then maybe we'll look sideways or look way back or way forward. Maybe we'll just chat about how our break has been going for a while. There might be a random moment of noise for Lemmy. 

You might need to pay attention to this chat to know what's going on. Which I think is important. I've said it before but if you can multitask a chat then you aren't really doing the professional development you claim to be doing. My job is to write questions on topics that engage for an hour on a weekly basis. You know, like we all do on a daily basis in our classes. Your job is if you come to the chat to be present in the chat. You know, like you expect your kids to do. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 87- Santa Baby

Dear Santa,

For [winter celebration of my choosing] this year I have a long list of requests. I've been bad a lot, but I've been very good at it. I should still get what I'm asking for. Tonight's chat will be a list of educational and personal wishes. But my first wish is that everyone takes a chat about wishes as seriously as a chat about wishes should be taken. Wish for the sun and the moon and the stars and a reindeer with a schnoz that glows and a magic hat and maybe the new album by your favorite band and a copy of He's the Weird Teacher or THE Teaching Text (You're Welcome).
And then maybe later in the chat we can play Santa. You know, a little role playing to spice things up. We will grant wishes to other people. I have to assume that you don't get letters from everyone which means sometimes you must have to guess. We'll guess what people want for [winter celebration of their choosing]. That would be fun and different, right?
Should we talk about who shouldn't get gifts? I dunno, that sounds a little negative for us, don't you think? Is there a way to spin that, somehow, Mr. Claus? I'll think on it and get back to you.
We'll leave the cookies and milk out for you. And some carrots for your reindeer and mud for your turtle.

Fly safe,


ps I really am serious about getting people my book. You better have a bunch in your sack there.

Friday, December 18, 2015


I cast about my class
Someone must know
must have a response
Same hands every time
Find someone new
Pull out a trick
turn and talk
did something stick?
Stand atop a desk
behind a desk  
kneel before the desk.
and dance
and sing for the kids
They dance
and sing back
I joke
they joke
we laugh
together we're in this
Some kids separate
Feeling hurt
Senses sensitive
feelings reeling
by home-life
life on the inside
Need to attend to everyone
gotta keep up with all the kids
and what they need
But what do I need?
Wild-eyed I teach
reach with speech and plans
and do you understands
yes ma'ams.
We push together
Strive together
Fail apart
Fail together
It's not now or never
Or is it
Learning intrinsic
Overthought until you're sick
I metacognate
teaching myself to think
about what I think
about what they think
and how
before it's too late
Try not to think about the end
of the term
of the day
of the lesson
they can sense that
it'll send
it'll burn
them away
Wild-eyed we try
And try
and try
and try
and try
and try
Teaching with a need
Even when I'm sitting
Quietly sitting
Mentally pacing as they
Take the lead
With wild-eyes

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 86- S******S

We don't want to hear about it. Don't say anything about it. How is that fun to know ahead of time? Stoppit. I know what I cant avoid and that's it. I like being surprised, don't you? Isn't that half the fun? I'm not going to claim it's all of the fun because I've seen PACIFIC RIM nine thousand times, but you want the first time to be special, with all the excitement and unsureness and fumbling that entails.


What were we talking about again?

Oh yeah! The thing on the Internet's mind right now! The thing everyone is obsessing over. SPOILERS! (Spoilers and Star Wars have the same number of letters and begin and end with the same letter, so that *** trick worked out rather nicely.)

Let's talk about spoilers for schools and students. Surprises and set-ups and pay-offs. Previews and giving away the game too early. We're a spoilerphobic culture now, and how does that translate to the classroom? Have you ever accidentally spoiled something for your kids? Or has a kid spoiled something for you or your class?

(I really don't want to talk about THE FORCE AWAKENS yet. I want to see it first. And even then I don't want to tweet specifics about it for another month.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 85- This Week

I want to rebuild edchats. At least this edchat, our edchat. And I'm still working on it. Twitter as a medium is fairly limiting. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Limits force creativity. So I've been sweating hard over how to revamp #WeirdEd and I haven't broken it yet. I've got a few ideas, some musings and some half-formed thoughts, but nothing solid. At the very least I want to keep pushing the edges of what can be an education topic, something I think we've done pretty well. Every week here is somewhat of an experiment and some go better than others. For example, I l loved the World of Warcraft chat idea we had a few weeks ago. I thought Jenn wrote excellent, creative, deep questions. But the chat didn't go great because it was a little too specific, a little too inside baseball. But I'm ok with that. I'm ok with #WeirdEd not being Big Tent. If I'm doing this right there will probably be weeks that turn you off because I'm trying to find new things. Every week is a new rep. It's certainly more interesting than yet another chat about collaboration or getting 20th century teachers into the 21st century. Sure, those can be productive conversations, but man can they be boring. 

#WeirdEd this week isn't ground-breaking or difficult. I want to make it as micro as possible. Real specific and specifically specific about education. Specifically specific about this week. It's Wednesday, let's talk about your week.

I want it to be a loose chat. I'm not even going to write questions. I never don't write questions. I think that's unprepared. I worry I'll waste your time if I'm not ready with a few well thought out and detailed questions. But since this will be about this week I think I'm going to try to let it flow more organically. If I have an idea and my brain goes, "No, that's a dumb idea," I'm going to try it in a way that feels not dumb. Don't self-reject, you train the muscle to stop trying. 

Let's talk about our teaching week so far, Monday through Wednesday. As a chat. A real chat. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#WeirdEd Week 84- The High Wire

image credit-

Teaching is a high wire act of the highest difficulty. The best make it look effortless unless they want it to look difficult, are terrified even when they are outwardly calm, and are meticulously planned.

A high wire act does not come together overnight. Maths and planning and practice happen over and over because sometimes that's literally the difference between life and death. Sometimes you have a net and it's the difference between triumph and embarrassment.

I assume wire walkers fall a lot when they are learning. And I assume the learning curve is difficult enough that only those called to the wire last. It's a small group of brave men and women. It can be learned, it's a skill as much as a talent, but there are those with naturally better balance. Sure, someone might learn to walk across a wire, but ride a bike? Juggle? Even walk backwards? Those are skills only a certain madness will allow.

We walk a wire in the classroom. Behavior plans, even the strongest, can be made to feel like a piece of thin metal stretched tight in a stiff breeze given the right circumstances. Lessons when there is no observation can still feel as though we had better not look down, never doubt for an instant once you're in it and going. Yes, doubt beforehand. Question and plan and prepare but once you're out on that wire you need to make it to the other end. The audience is depending on you.

Our students are right on the wire with us. Some readers might have rolled their eyes, "Once again Doug is putting himself (literally) above his students. Like with the rock star thing." But that's not trying hard enough to extend the metaphor. Each of our kids walks her or his own wire. Some, again, make it look easy, fairly sprinting from one post to the next. Others inch out  on the wire, clinging with knuckles white and knees a'tremble.

How do you teach a wire walker? You can't walk with them, can you? A master walker must stand on the opposite platform and coach from there. You need to let the fledgling walker find her own balance. He needs to hit the net a few times. You give the walker a bar to balance, maybe even a safety harness to slow or stop the fall. Still, they must walk on their own.

As a walker's confidence grows the choice may be made to go higher, though I assume if you're indoors it's just as difficult to walk over ten feet of air as it is to walk over fifteen or twenty or fifty feet. It's like saying you can swim in the deep end or the shallow end. The danger in the fall is already there.

Praise the brave, the crazy, high wire walkers. In ourselves, and in our classrooms, under each of our own Big Tops.

Related- You should check out this doc, it's really great. Joseph Gordon Levitt is starring in a feature about the same thing that I haven't seen but just came out.