Monday, April 30, 2018

Working Well/Working Slow

"Make sure you do your best work. This is not a race. Take your time, do it right."

We all say it with certain assignments and projects. Many of us have been saying it more often than normal because The Big Test At The End is upon us and if there's one thing we are allowed to say it's "Take your time, you have plenty, please don't rush though this."

I've heard it said, and have since stolen and repeated, that projects are like gas- they will expand to fill the space given. Give a student three weeks, and he will finish the night before it's due. Give the same student the same project and only a week, he will finish the night before, and quality will only be minimally impacted, depending on the assignment. (Obviously, and I feel it's important to point this out because we have a tendency to over-simplify the complexities of education in conversation, this is a generalization. I know some assignments take longer to do well than others. The general idea stands.) This is the idea idea behind both my Hobby Project assignment and my Quick Build projects. Teaching students that they are capable of managing time and learning faster than they thought they could.

Time is always a factor in everything we do. Time management is one of the hardest parts of learning to teach because you simply cannot learn it as a student. You must be standing in front of a class and have it slowly dawn on you that it is lunch time already holy crap I've been teaching this for ninety minutes that's just not possible the class clock must be wrong I'll just check my phone oh no. Time management is why, amongst other reasons, the Big Test At The End sucks. It eats up give chunks of instructional time, or time I could be napping and showing episodes of Bill Nye*. Time management is why I like making videos for kids to watch in class for instruction sometimes. I can get a lesson across quicker in a video than I can in front of the room, and it gives me time to mix around the room and give more personalized instruction while giving the kids the option to rewind as needed. Note- I said in class. I'm not flipping for videos to be watched at home, this is inequitable for my population.

Given all that, it's important to remind students "you have as much time as you need. Do your best." I always forget to add one important piece to that direction. I should say "You have much time as you need within reason. Do your best." Let's now sit together for a moment and pretend that adding "within reason" would actually make a huge difference. ... Feels good right? Feels like one of those feel-good cat poster tweets that sounds deep but doesn't actually say anything. "Within reason." How does that differentiate? As the teacher I know that "within reason" is different for each of my kids. I know that this one can be done with the whole writing assignment in an hour, including planning and editing. And I know this kid will be just about done planning and might have started his rough draft in that time. I know this kid will think she's done in the hour but will actually only be done with a rough draft and oh no, this is not fifth grade work.***

Who is working well and who is working slow? Who is taking advantage of the time and who is taking advantage of the time? This is always a teacher's call. We need to decide on the fly, using what we know about the kids and what we see being produced, whether the work being done makes sense given the time and instruction. Where does "doing your best" end and "come on, let's get a move on" start?

On top of that, how willing should we be to tell students "You have been doing this test for much too long, and at this point you either know it or you don't. Guess." You have given those tests. When nearly everyone in the room is done and you walk by the kids still working and one is on question two of sixteen. What? Come on. Where did you go? Speaking for myself as a test-taker, I am hyper-aware of what I know and what I don't. I tend to test quickly because I know when I don't know something and I don't spend a lot of time cranking on it unless I think I can puzzle it out. A personal example of taking a long time on a test would be when I had to get Oregon teacher certified when I moved here from Hawaii. I needed to take a bunch of tests, and the math test had a few questions that at first glance I had no idea how to do, but I knew I could grind and find a long way around to the answer. Maybe not the right way or the fast way, but a way. That test took me a long time, I was working slowly but well. When I take a writing test or a reading comprehension test I finish fast. If I'm taking a long time on one of those that's bad because it means I'm drifting. So I use my personal experience when watching kids work, but I tie that to knowing my kids aren't me so what are they doing, and why. If I can I stop the student and ask them to explain what they're stuck on or what their thinking is. If I can't stop the student then I hope they don't believe "take your time, do it right" actually means "stare at this long enough and I'll magically understand it".

Is this student working well or working slow, or is it some combination of the two, is just one of the calculations we do multiple times a day. It's one more reason teaching and learning can't be broken down into simple ideas. Take your time. But not too much time. A reasonable amount of time. For you. For this task. Today.

Oh, one last thing, because I can hear someone in the back shouting it at me- Yes, I know in your job it'll be rare for your boss to say "Hey Peter, if you can finish these TPS Reports at the pace which will allow you to do your best work and have it on my desk when you're done, that would be greeaaat." I know that many bosses will say "This thing you have to do for your job needs to be done by the end of the day". I know that because I also have a job with time-sensitive work. However, I do not see my job as preparing students to enter the job market. I am helping to prepare kids to be responsible, productive members of society and, more importantly, awesome, fully realized humans. Just like I believe that if I teach well without teaching to the test my kids will do well on the test, so too do I believe that if I help my kids become the fully realized humans they want to be, they will be successful in whatever job they take on. I'm not training a workforce. I'm teaching people.

*this is what's known as a "joke"**

**I show Cosmos now instead, longer episodes mean longer naps

*** "fifth grade work" also being a flexible term than varies depending on the fifth grader I'm talking to

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

Monday, April 23, 2018

Making Bad Choices

I am in favor of student voice and student choice. I believe that my kids will be more invested if I give them the option to choose what they want to learn (always within the borders of what I want them to learn and within reason). 

I also believe that my students will make some really goofy choices that might end up blowing up in their faces, and I have to accept that in order to keep the whole Student Choice edifice from falling down around my ears. 

For the last few years I have done a version of TEDtalks (that link takes you to the assignment) in my class wherein my kids are allowed to pick anything they want to talk about, research that topic (don't do it off the top of your head, yes I know you think you know it but that's not the goal or purpose), and then give a five minute talk about that topic without any notes of any kind. When I introduce the lesson I say in italics "you may choose ANYTHING you want. Yes anything. Can you talk about what? Is that an anything? Then yes. Still yes. Also yes. BUT-" and then I include guidelines like it's your job to make us as the audience care about the thing you're talking about, you're not to just spit facts and figures you found on the internet at us, but relate it to yourself and, if possible, to us in some way. Choice, within boundaries. I give you the end point and a map, you choose how you get there. 

Here's the thing- some kids will choose to get there by airplane, making the trip as quick and easily as possible. Others will choose to go by rusty one-wheeled bicycle (not an actual unicycle, but a bicycle that is missing a wheel). 

And I have to let them. 

That's when the project gets hard for me. I have to choke back the urge to say "Umm, this topic you've pick. It''s gonna be really hard and you should pick something else. I'm not saying you have to change topics, I'm just saying that you might want to change topics." I can't do that. That destroys the structure of choice because then the student starts bringing me ideas and looking for approval. Then who is doing the choosing? I am. 

I can guide once the choice is made though. Nudge, staying within my boundaries and their choice. "Ok, you've chosen x. What do you know about it? Why should I care? How can you talk about it while talking about something else?" I love that last question. It's really hard to answer. I push the kids to think about layers. We watch a ton of TEDtalks, like this one by astronaut Chris Hadfield called "What I Learned From Going Blind In Space". I ask, "What was that about?" They say, "Him going blind in space." "No! Well, only kinda. He spent maybe five of the eighteen minutes telling that particular story. What's the talk really about?" Eventually we get to "It's about fear, and dealing with being afraid." YES! That's the Big Goal. Use your TEDtalk to talk about a sport, sure, but talk about something else by talking about the sport. Again- I know this is really difficult. It's supposed to be. I let them pick the topic to make it easier. 

Let's look at the list of topics my students this year have chosen. See if you can pick out who is flying to the goal via airplane and who is trying to pump up a flat bike tire.

Movie- lessons about never giving up
Dodgers- history of
Gymnastics- moves
How to drive a Formula One car
Fortnite- mods and online
Football- Julio Jones
Squishies- how they're made
NBA- Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving
softball- history of
ballet- Missie Copeland
Minecraft- learning through
space- how the planets work together
magic- tricks
Five Nights a Freddy's- game design and mechanics
Astros- failure to success
Splatoon 2- why is it good?
MLP- Magical Mystery Cure- Being true to yourself
Soccer- you can play it anywhere
Contortion- what it is and means
How sports helps students academically
Benefits of reading and why it's not a punishment
animal body language
professional wrestling
Great Wolf Lodge- MagiQuest, failure is good
graffiti/conquering your fears
Soccer- equipment and how to play it
astrology- your sign doesn't matter

There's sports and video games and tv shows and all kinds of things fifth graders are obsessed with. I had to talk to each of these kids and aim them at their goal without changing their vehicle. 

Teaching is hard. It's also incredibly exciting. These two states exist simultaneously all the time. I can not wait to see how My Little Pony becomes a TEDtalk. I have no idea how squishies will be related to the rest of the class in a way they care about, but I'm very interested to see what happens. Am I worried they won't work? Yup. Do I want to step in and say, "Come here and let me do this with you so it can be done right, because we can make this work." Yup. But I'm not going to. That will come after. I want the students to do this on their own after our initial meeting. I have to play Ivan Drago, stand back, and say, "If he (metaphorically) dies, he dies."

That's the part of student choice that doesn't get talked about enough. Student choice sometimes means student failure. Student choice means letting students choose poorly so that they might learn to either choose better next time or make their poor choice work. Which means teacher fears about student choice are completely founded. There is no room for mockery or looking down on teachers who hesitate to invest deeply in student choice. Easy to say when they aren't your kids, when it isn't your job, your classroom. Investing in student choice means letting your kids fail, and fail hard, until they learn not to. There's a lot of pressure on teachers to have our kids succeed. You need some combination of the right admin, the right team, the right mindset to make it work and to stick with it for the long haul, watching kids get better at choice, watching them learn to fail faster and earlier in the process that they might revise before the finish comes. 

TEDtalks start tomorrow. Like the night before any project I'm more nervous about what's going to be presented in a few hours than I would be if I was doing the presenting. I've given over control and am running on trust and faith that this way will serve my students in the long term, no matter how it does now.

And if they fail then we talk about how to do it better. We reflect and revise and (they don't know this yet so don't tell them) I'll let them do it again. I don't tell them, by the way, because they'll use that as a Get Out Of Jail Free card. I want the initial pressure.

I'll be in the back of the room tomorrow sending thoughts to my students like I always do. Please be good. Please find ways to layer your talks. Please be relatable. Please be rehearsed. Please have learned and show it. Please trust me, I know it's hard. You can do it. 

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

Monday, April 16, 2018

Data Would Make a Terrible Teacher

Data would make a terrible teacher. Yes, in "All Good Things" former Lt Commander Data has become a professor, but that's years after we knew him on the Enterprise. The Data we know and love would make a terrible teacher, for the same reason he made a compelling character- he doesn't understand human emotion. Data knows everything there is to know, and what he doesn't know he can learn faster than anyone else on the ship (unless it's Riker learning a new ensign's room number). Data can relay all that information back to you. But, with a quizzical head tilt, he cannot understand why you don't get it. He can relay the information, but he can't relate to it.

So who on the NCC-1701D would make a good teacher? What can we learn about teaching from my Enterprise crew?

Some may answer Jean-Luc Picard, the best captain a ship named Enterprise ever saw. And it's hard to disagree. He's powerful, commanding, well-read, empathetic, loves history, and can play the Ressikan flute on the days the music teacher is sick. Oh yeah, also he can't stand being around kids. At all. As in, in the season 5 episode "Disaster" when everything goes wrong and everyone is trapped doing jobs they are not equipped to do (is this also the "You may now give birth" episode) the show traps Picard with three children. And for just a moment, he would rather fall to his death in a broken turbolift than figure out a way to survive along with the kids. There's a lot to love about Jean-Luc (just ask Vash), but he's not the best teacher. Not even, I'd think, at the university level because even though he loves his history, he'd be one of those professors who loves his subject so much that he doesn't realize he's talking straight past his students. However, you could get in his good graces by bringing him tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Riker also has qualities that would make him a good teacher, and others that disqualify him immediately. For example, he would probably have excellent relationships with the moms in his class, as well as those parents with no gender.* He's got an easy smile and the respect of those who work him him. Also, it would be fun to watch him sit down. But he's also hard on those under him, and not terribly supportive at times. Riker couldn't stand Barkley, for example, and how a character treats Barkley can be a litmus test for how good of a teacher they'll be. He also had trouble relating to the cadets and junior officers in "Lower Decks", which means he might forget what his students are going through. And finally, he might teach his students to play trombone, which is a deal breaker.

While we're on the subject of Barkley, Geordi also wouldn't make a great teacher. Like Riker, Geordi couldn't stand the insecure goofball when he met him and had no patience for his fumbling and stuttering. Geordi knows his ship inside and out, and solves problems creatively, though maybe a little creepily. You don't want Geordi teaching a class, he's more at home with his engines. I assume he could see what's written on the notes his students are passing without opening them up, which would be helpful.

Everyone's LOL choice would be Worf, but I don't think he'd be as bad as all that. Hear me out- Worf evolves a lot over the course of the show. Season one Worf, no, not a good teacher. But in season one Worf's response to literally anything was "Shoot it with a phaser." But then we get to "Lower Decks" and Worf drops this amazing bit of teaching.

I honestly love that scene, what she takes from it, and how he conveys it. Worf also actively tries to grow and get better. He's never a great father to Alexander, but he improves and finds ways to accept how his son is different and that he has to teach him the way Alexander needs to learn, which might not be the Klingon Way. Worf is also my favorite character, so I'm biased about all this because he'd also headbutt a parent into next week given the right motivation.

We're left with two main cast members- Troi and Dr. Crusher. I have to say I'm a little disappointed that the two most likely to be good teachers are the two women, but we can be honest and say that for as progressive as TNG was, it still put the women in the care-giver roles. (Except Tasha, but Tasha wouldn't make a good teacher because she'd die halfway through a lesson early in the year.)

Troi is an empath and a counselor. And honestly, if I had her at a school, I wouldn't put her in a classroom, I'd put her in the counselor's office. She would make an excellent teacher, with her ability to read the kid's emotions. But I think she might not be as strong as they would need sometimes. Yes, she learns to be stronger in "Disaster' (wow, the same episodes are coming up over and over), but a great school counselor is a gift. Come to think of it, you could transpose the whole crew into similar school situations and it would work. Picard as principal, Riker as VP, Geordi doing Maker classes, Data teaching logic and computers, Worf teaching PE, Deanna in the counselor's office.

Leaving us with the best teacher on the main cast- Doctor Beverly Crusher. Strong, smart, empathetic, with experience with children. Dr. Crusher would be the teacher everyone learned the most from. She also was willing to put Picard (and anyone else) in place when needed. She can feel the emotion of a moment while also moving through it to do the job. She is confident in herself and knows that sometimes it's the world that's mad, not you. She took the time to teach Data to dance, and when Data downloaded a program to dance technically right she knew to tell him that technically right isn't the same as dancing well. Dr. Crusher knows that data isn't the end, but it is a tool she can use to do her job. I want to be in Dr Crusher's class.

Honorable Mentions-

Keiko O'Brian- She ends up being a teacher once she and Miles depart to Deep Space Nine, but she only gets an honorable mention because she's a botanist who decided to become a teacher because the station needed a teacher and how hard can it be? I hate that trope.

Guinan- Not a regular cast member, but more regular than Keiko, Guinan the bartender probably would actually be the best teacher on the ship, because that's often what her job was. She'd smile, tell a little story, and let the other crew members figure out their problems. She was also hundreds of years old, so she knew what was up. I'd also like to be in Guinan's classroom.

Q- Q would be The Greatest Teacher Ever and also The Worst Teacher Ever, often at the same time. He hates the rules, can't stand people who don't understand him, is constantly condescending and mocking, once asking Worf, "Eat any good books lately?" And yet, you know Q's class would be Can't Miss. 

*The Outcast is an outstanding episode with a dark ending that should have gone all the way with the casting of J'naii but does a lot for being a show that came out in 1992. 

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Here and Listen by Sarah Windisch

**guest post by Sarah Windisch*

From up here on my soapbox
Where it’s clear that everyone
Is a musician
It’s so easy for me to brush off
The fears you have as

What if someone hates it?
What if someone hates me?
What if it’s not very good?
What if it’s actually really good?
Poetry isn’t for me.
At least not the me you know…

And then:

Why does it have to be in verse?
I think rhyming is the worst.

Or maybe:
This free-verse stuff is just

I guess that maybe I need to
Hear AND
But only if you
Slip off those shackles
And come

Monday, April 9, 2018

Communicating About The Big Test At The End

Like most classes at this time of year, my kids are about to embark on that wonderful stretch of time known as The Big Test At The End. In schools across the country students will be bent over screens, logged into secure browsers, and take whatever their state's version of the big standardized test is.

No one likes this. There's not one teacher who says, "I can't wait for The Big Test! It's so fun." No, we all want that time for ourselves. Some of us hate it more than others. I am not in the Vehemently Hate group. I can't be. I have to give this test. I could hate it all I wanted, but then I'm spending a good chunk of time doing something I hate. So I choose to tolerate it. Railing at my principal is complaining at the waiter because your food isn't seasoned right. The Test isn't her choice either. She's doing her job too, because sometimes in teaching, in the moment, we've got to Do Our Job. On our own time we speak up and argue against what needs to change. Telling the kids how much I hate something is the opposite of motivating. It's like parent conferences when the parent say, "Well I was never good at math either." Awesome, thanks for that.

At the end of the day, unless their parents opt out, I have to give the test and the have to take the test. This is a hoop we're all jumping through together. When faced with something like this the choice is not to jump or not to jump, but how do you jump? How do you sell it to the kids? How do you sell it to yourself? Because, remember, I don't like this and I look forward to the pendulum swinging in the other direction, so I need to convince myself too.

I sell it two ways- Mockery and Making It No Big Deal.

First, I rarely call it the OAKS test, to my kids or otherwise. It's The Big Test At The End. I'm gonna make fun of it. That's how I deal with things. It's also how Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 gold medal winning US hockey team, dealt with the unbeatable, intimidating Russian team. He would show pictures of the Russians and make fun of them during team meetings, David poking at Goliath until he wasn't as scary. We all get a script we have to read, full of test directions. "I will now read you the directions for this section of the test." I read these to fidelity and by the rules. But with a look, a glance, a flourish, overplaying the importance before I start. Let the pressure off. I could sigh, sending that energy into my kids. I choose to smile.

Second, the Big Test At The End is No Big Deal. Sure, it is to some and in some ways. It is to the district and the state and the school, and I care about it as much as I should. But I'm not gonna send any of that energy into the kids. There's this terrible comic, which I hate so much I'll only link to but not post, that depicts everyone in the education chain sweating and stressing over a kid testing. No. Newp. I refuse. I admit that even though I talk a big game there's still a part of me that sweats and worries about the test, because of how its treated in education right now, but I hold it inside and keep it in perspective. I constantly talk to my kids about keeping it in perspective. It's No Big Deal. To demonstrate how I communicate this, I am going to share the letter I send home to parents and guardians on Big Test Eve.

Parents and Guardians of Room 17,
As I’m sure your children have mentioned, we are about to start the process of what I like to call The Big Test At The End and what the school calls OAKS. This week will be the science test, and the follow weeks will be Language Arts, Math, Language Arts Performance Task, and Math Performance Task. The Performance Task tests are less questions but more combining of knowledge into a few big questions.

I want to stress this very strongly- While the state and the district feel the Big Test At The End is important, is it not something I want to worry our kids. As I tell the students, I want them to do their best on it not because it’s this Big Important Test, but because the expectation in our class is that we always do our best on anything we do. Students should come to school rested and ready to go, but again, that’s always been the expectation. 
These tests don’t measure everything that our kids know and how a student does on a test certainly does not reflect who our kids are, and I work hard to make sure the kids understand that. As I said, we take it as seriously as it deserves and we do our very best because that’s who we are as learners. It will be difficult, but hopefully we’ve learned that challenges can be overcome with perseverance and critical thinking.
Testing time will only be one hour a day, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. It will not eat our whole day and Mrs Farmer and I will be working hard to ensure that our students are still learning in the fun, creative ways we have been trying to do all year. Just like the test does not define our students, it also does not define our classroom.
Please let me know if you have any questions. My email is ____.

-Doug Robertson and Kristine Farmer

Please notice that I repeatedly stress that my expectations for student effort on the test is high not because it's The Test, but because we always do our best. So I expect no less. That doesn't mean kids should worry, because it's nothing new. I tell the parents that yes, we will be testing for about an hour every day for a few weeks. But it's only an hour. I have them all day. I am good at this. I will not let one long hour determine our entire day. I set the tone. My kids set the tone, but we can all admit that the kids follow the lead of the teacher. I refuse to believe otherwise, because if that wasn't true then I would have no explanation for why I have the weirdest group of kids in the entire school every single year.

A leadership characteristic that I love, one that I try to cultivate whether I'm teaching, leading a professional development, or running a committee, confidence. Not hands-on-hips Superhero Confidence. More a sense of "I got this. We got this." A smile. A joke. A breath and a pause. We got this. Be it a writing assignment, a Big Test, or a maker project.

We got this. Because we always got this. None of this is new to us. We put in full effort, because that's how we live.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Googling Fictional Characters

"Mr Robertson, can I google what Shiloh looks like?"

"Huh?" (side note: "huh" is a much more common teacher response to student questions than we admit, and for good reason- kids ask bonkers questions sometimes)

"For the project, we are making Shiloh and we want it to be right."

This is where that Flow Chart Of Responses that lives within every teacher's brain lights up. What to say, what to say. Can't go down that path, never go down that path. This one? Hmm, perhaps clarity is required.

"Shiloh is a fictional dog, the story is made up. He doesn't exist."

"Right, but what does he look like?"

This, at its core, is a reading comprehension problem right? Which still makes it my problem, which means I still need to teach it. The student could, in theory, google what Shiloh looks like. Google will kick back the cover of the book, which has a picture of the titular dog on it (along with a boy that looks like a young Matt Smith). But that's not actually what the dog looks like, is it? That's the nature of a novel, you never really know what anyone looks like, even if the author wastes a bunch of words telling you what a character looks like. We, as readers, learn through reading or are taught explicitly that it's our job to help paint the picture. A novel is a cooperative effort. We are constantly filling in the blanks. That's one of the reasons movies based on books can be so frustrating- no one looks right! Another, bigger, more mature reason is that the studio ruins a perfect piece of literature (looking at you, The Dark Tower which was perfectly cast and terribly written).

My job then is to help the student go through the book and find the parts where the dog is described at all. Maybe a breed is mentioned, or a color. We can google those things. She can be as specific as possible without literally googling the fictional animal.

OR...Don't know what a beagle looks like? That's ok, neither did Charles Shultz, didn't stop him. Draw what was in your head. I help the student overcome her concern about her drawing skills (or skillz, as none of the kids say). I stress that the point of the assignment is not a photorealistic dog but that her finished product in some way represents what she thinks is the most important part or main idea of the story.

But Doug, some of you say, you should give her greater choice and then she won't have to draw at all. Reader, you are seeing one assignment of hundreds, and limited choice allows for great growth when presented properly. She can try to draw the dog this time, and in that struggle learn.

When my students ask to google things like this, things that should have grown in their heads, I tell them no. Google is not the fount of all knowledge. Use what you have first. Give me something else that you need to look up. If your students are anything like mine they could spend hours looking for juuuuust the perfect picture and then what? If you're a student I had one year, then you put your paper up to your Chromebook screen and start to trace with a very sharp pencil until your blue-haired teacher catches you at the last possible second and stops you. True story.

I get to teach my kids to trust themselves and to read deeper. Some of us haven't developed the ability to make a movie in our minds as we read. That's taught. We can't just assume that kids will do it. I've taught enough years to know that when I say, "You know how when you're reading you can see the book in your mind, almost like a movie," I've got a bunch of students with a look on their faces that says "Nope. No, I do not know that. I see words." Then I get to help them find the books that can be their movies. And I get to help them visualize and create those worlds. It's not enough to say it. It's too easy to reduce teaching to simple things like that. If I'm passionate enough about learning and make the room learner centered then learning will just happen. No, we are intentional. We are professional. Ve haff vays ov makink you theenk.

If you like this post and the other posts on this blog you should know I’ve written three books about teaching- He’s the Weird TeacherTHE Teaching Text (You’re Welcome), and the just released A Classroom Of One. I’ve also written one novel- The Unforgiving Road. You should check them out, I’m even better in long form. I’m also on the tweets @TheWeirdTeacher