Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Leaving Public Education

I was listening to a podcast today and one of the panelists mentioned she was a former teacher. As I continued listening I realized my perception of her had changed (not for the better) and I realized it was because she is a 'former' teacher.

I started to think about all of the reasons why I would negatively judge a former teacher, and remember this a judgemental and I know it:

  1. They thought the job was easy, and then when they found out it wasn't they left. 
  2. It was something to do until they decided what they really wanted to do.
  3. They can't hack it. (Insert whatever the word 'it' means to you.)
  4. They wanted to raise a family. Ok, this one needs explaining. I don't mean they want to have children and stay with them until they are grown up or in school. What kind of monster do you think I am? What I mean is they say they want to raise a family as an excuse to quit. Remember, I already pointed out I am judging.
  5. They want to make more money.  This one is a trap in my thinking. I mean, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make more money. Also, we know what we are getting paid when we sign the contract. Also, teachers are underpaid. Also, teachers have bills. Somewhere in all that is the problem. They judge the value of the work solely in monetary terms. Again, judging!
  6. They think kids these days are horrible. I can't even...
And this is the problem I have to address with myself, it shouldn't matter to me why they left. It isn't my business. I think that the teaching profession is somehow more than just a job where people come and go. It isn't, despite my romanticism of it. And as long as I romanticize it I will keep judging the people that leave, and that isn't right. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Why Do People, or Government Agencies, Have Social Media Accounts If They Never Plan to Be Social?

I saw that the US Department of Education, @usedgov, was hosting a Twitter chat tonight so being the curious person I am I decided to go check out their Twitter page. I noticed that they followed 151 accounts so I wandered in to see who they deemed worthy of following. Can you imagine my surprise when I saw the account followed only a handful of educators, and they are ambassadors for the department. Other than that, I found they follow no educators.

While I know there is plenty of opportunity for negative tweets to be sent to the account and this might explain why there is not much community creation by this and other accounts that have high followers but few followees, I still think they are missing out on the point. There is a real opportunity for the Department of Education to have good conversations with educators and barring that there is still a real opportunity for it to read tweets from a few select educator accounts that are talking about important things.

Should the Department of Education follow more educators? I would love for your insights. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Open Up Commenting

I don't believe blogging is dead. I believe that blogging conversations are. There was a time when a new education blog post could drive a ton of traffic on Twitter. We would leave comments on the post and 'back-channel' here. Then, along came the trolls. So many of the more highly followed ed blogs started to turn off comments. They did not want to have to constantly guard against angry, inappropriate comments that did not further conversations.

Did this contribute to blogs becoming less influential, and less influential here? I would think so. There are still tons of educators writing blogs, but are we seeing those ideas being discussed here? Are they driving conversations?

I have had many, many interesting conversations around tweets lately, but only one that focused on a blog post. The post was actually written about tweets. So, what are we losing out on if we aren't reading/sharing/commenting on blog posts? 

Probably the most important thing is the freedom to time shift the conversations long enough to think critically about the post and our reply. The well thought out and unhurried conversation. Am I the only one that thinks we need to go back to this?

Let's start by opening up commenting. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Student Walk-Up Songs

I'm a rebel just for kicks, now
I been feeling it since 1966, now

Portugal. The Man

When a baseball player walks up to bat, you will often hear a song being played. Each player has a different song and that song means something to the player. This is commonly referred to as a walk-up song.

I adopted Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man as my unofficial school walk-up song last year. I was born in the 60's, my teen years were in the 80's and being a 'rebel just for kicks' seems to perfectly encompass my attitude. (And yes, I am very aware of the privilege I have to be able to say that.) 

I would occasionally ask a student what their walk-up song was last year, but that is a really hard thing to do without some serious (or maybe not so serious) thought. This year I have decided to make the question my first homework assignment of the year.

The students will be asked to pick a song that will tell me something about who they are. We will discuss what makes a song school appropriate and how we must be aware that public behavior may have to be different than private behavior. This is a very important continuous discussion with junior high students. This will also be a great time to discuss how social studies is much more than studying history and geography.

The students will share the lyrics they feel reflect themselves and we will listen to a snippet of it. My goal is to get a feel for what they think it is important I know about them as well as what kinds of music they are listening to. This will help inform some of my music choices for the class as well. Maybe we will make a class playlist too.

I would love some feedback on this idea. What would you do differently? What questions would you ask? How would you modify this lesson to work in your classroom? 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Blogging Is Dead (Nope)

I used to blog.

The Twitter thread has taken the place of the long form writing blog post. Somewhere between the end of a lot of RSS readers and the ability to link tweets together blog posts started to get fewer and fewer. Eventually, it seemed posting became relatively rare (with certain exceptions.)

I personally quit posting here, except for the occasional poem, years ago. I also quit regularly visiting other blogs that I would go to every day with my morning coffee. Maybe I was burned out, maybe I was over-busy, maybe I found something else to do I preferred. I don't believe that I am the only one.

Have conversations over complex issues become too simplified on Twitter? I suppose that depends on your own perception. I do know that I learned much more about people whose opinions I trust by reading blog posts over tweets. Respect was earned on a blog.

Is it time to rejuvenate my blog? I think so. I am planning on my students blogging this coming year, something that I have not had them do in years. That means I better get to it myself. Would you like to join me and start/continue writing on a blog? Maybe we together can make the medium an even more valuable learning space.

I would like to take this space to thank the amazing educators that have continued to blog over the years. I have learned much from you and you have challenged me over and over. If you had quit like I did, I wouldn't be doing this now.