Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lights, camera, action

I’ve been thinking lately (which is often dangerous)…some teacher folk I have spoken with over the years have vehemently stressed that they are not performers…they are teachers. The argument continues as I suggest that perhaps adding a bit of excitement to the classroom would help with classroom management and concurrently with student achievement. But I am shot down, time and time again by folks stressing the importance of teaching the necessary information to the students. (But I think that’s what I’m suggesting would happen if we take it up a notch…no?)

And, well…I think they’ve missed the boat on that one. I see those two descriptors – teacher & performer – as one in the same. Its like peas and carrots…cookies and milk…Oprah and Gayle. One just doesn’t work without the other.

The reality is that we need to be masters of our craft which isn’t about understanding what wicked cool acronyms like IEP, ASCD, MEPA, PDP, MELA-O, ELA, ELL, and (my personal favorite) ADHD stand for. Being a master teacher embodies the effective delivery of information. Effective delivery of information can only be quantified in the understanding displayed by the students (and possibly the presence of a pulse in each student at the end of class).

Method #1: Drone on in front of class requiring copious amounts of notes to be taken along with rote memorization of vocabulary words. Then, review for a test by simply asking a question and requiring the verbatim answer to be correct. Stick to the routine. Do not deviate. Stay on schedule for fear of failure. We all learned that way and we turned out just fine.

Method #2: Become a performer. Entice students with provocative questions, be animated about the subject, provide multi-media forms of presentation, ask students to teach the class, dress up like an astronaut…and the list goes on. This all takes the ability to be interesting. Be a dork…be a nerd…be a wild and crazy professor that everyone fears…whatever works for you but be something exciting for criminy’s sake.

There are some super duper smart people in this world who know more than I can ever dream to know…however…they couldn’t teach a ball to bounce. They may have the personality of a donut (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or they may just be SO smart that they cannot relate to us mere mortals on a human level. Either way…just too darn smart to teach.

Then there are those who just like to take the summer off. They do the minimum to get by because “These kids just don’t care.” Yes…I’m not gonna lie…having summers off is one of the GREAT benefits of being a teacher. However, that is not the reason why one should take the challenge of teaching. I know that during the summer I take the time to research more material, create new lessons, learn about new technology and trends in education. It takes those 2 months to recoup from all of the craziness throughout the school year. But why not use those two months to whip your hair back and forth and get into a rhythm for crying out loud.

And then there are those who are dynamic, interesting people who love to see the light go on over the head of the kid who entered the room in a coma. We might not be the smartest of the smart but we sure know how to handle a holster full of info. We can motivate students to ask for more. We can deliver a unit of info with some pizazz and are darn proud of it. And that doesn't make us crazy...just passionate.

So while I try really hard to value the opinion of others…I have to respectfully (and LOUDLY) disagree with the idea that teachers are not performers. In fact I think we should have the Teacher Oscar aWards. The TOW’s would be the most glamorous, coveted awards in our society. Not only would the nominees and winners be great teachers but they would also be a master of the stage. They wouldn’t be afraid to dress up like a wizard or don the Snooky poof to entice students into a lesson. The TOW’s would be awarded to those who are not afraid to look deep within themselves and call upon that thespian who is driven to improve the knowledge of others in dramatic and exciting ways.

Who wouldn’t want a TOW?

No comments: