Let's Get Pedagogical
I started blogging in March 2014, when the thoughts I had regarding the then-upcoming #oklaed rally demanded the world’s attention. (You see this wit and wisdom as a gift; I alone understand they are my burden to carry.)
A few months later I was halfway ‘round the world in a wrap-up session for a teacher workshop with which I’d been privileged to assist, and wishing there were a workable way to preserve or share some of the strategies, materials, and other ideas we’d discussed that week – something more than a notebook or a flash drive or even the miracle that is Dropbox.
I’ve visited lesson plan websites before, and most of them… well, they don’t do much for me. This may simply be because I’m a teacher snob, or because those busy being amazing educators have little time to walk me through their mysterious ways. They may even have lives after school - better things to do than this.
Maybe I’m just not looking correctly. For all I know, there are dozens of great secondary History/ELA sites which I’m simply too clueless to have discovered. I’ll probably get links to all of them in response to this post – for which I’ll be legitimately grateful.
Or maybe it just doesn’t work that way. I have zero concern public school teachers can ever be replaced by computers on a meaningful scale, for example, because the human interaction, connection, and persuasion is simply too major a factor in dragging these little darlings into the light – if only for those brief moments. And if fancy software can’t teach my kids as effectively as a minimally competent nose-breather with a bachelor's degree, how can a website become any more useful a resource than those ancillaries we used to get so excited about at new textbook time? (May the edu-gods forgive us for the decisions we made based on transparencies and test-maker discs.)
But maybe the only way to talk about teaching is to be physically together, TALKING about TEACHING.
Besides, most lesson plan sites are elementary and early middle school heavy – which I totally get. We expect teachers at that level to cover everything in every possible style with all kids for the entire day. There are a few sites heavy on the Powerpoints or educational video clips, etc., which have been useful for starting ideas from time to time. I’m absolutely NOT knocking anyone’s site or resources. They just weren’t doing anything for me.
But despite all that, the vanity of even considering… I mean… seriously? A teacher resource site?
Blogging is one thing – it’s challenging enough, and the time it takes, and never really knowing if it matters, and yet there are your innards, time-stamped and misspelled, for all the world to browse without comment or to ignore while you pretend not to care because you’re not doing it for that, dammit!
At least I've heard that's what it's like for others. It's brought me nothing but admiration and adoration across the edu-blogosphere. But I do so try to stay in tune with the little people.
To begin posting 15 years of my favorite lessons, materials, ideas – most borrowed from sources I don’t even remember and modified on the fly no matter how many times I use them – is insane, right? Much of the flavor has to be lost in translation. Too much explaining is limiting, and insulting to teachers perfectly capable of figuring out how to make an idea work in their reality; too little explaining leaves new teachers or those looking to try new things without enough to go on.
Most people already do this stuff anyway, right? Or if they don’t, maybe it’s because there are so many better ways to do it. Or this other reason, or that factor over there, and what about - ?
The reasons it’s a horrible idea are legion. But I moved from a blog to an actual website to allow for the possibility, and for a year now I’ve done only minimal work on that part of things while focusing on wowing the world with my insights, charm, and general lack of decency or shame once I’m riled about something.
But it’s time.
The feeling won’t go away – the gut desire to try it. To go big or go home. Time to put some of those favorite platitudes to the test:
“The Learning Happens in the Struggle”
“Better to be Wrong than to be Afraid”
“Irresponsibility: No Single Raindrop Believes It Is To Blame for the Flood”
(That last one is on the wall of my classroom next to several other Demotivational posters I find to be far more true and thus far more useful than the traditional pablum involving bicyclists silhouetted on mountain tops.)
So, as the #11FF have already noticed, I’ve been slightly less active on the tweeter thing and somewhat less prolific in the bloggery as I wrestle with what and how in regards to waxing pedagogical. But it’s gradually being built, and pushed out there.
Help yourself. If there’s something you already know, or already do better, skip it. If there’s anything you like or find interesting, help yourself. If there’s anything you want, it doesn’t hurt to ask. If I have it, I’ll see what I can do. If not, I may know a guy who knows a guy… The plan is to keep adding things as time allows and inspiration dictates. Right now it's rather minimal - but if I wait until it's "done" to push it out, well... you know the rest.
If you're not particularly hard up for the basics, but need something engaging and low-stress to do during or after testing, I'm pretty proud of these document activities.
My only request is that if you use something and it works particularly well, or if you change it in some way that makes it better, or even if you discover a fatal flaw not anticipated by the materials or the instructions, drop me a line. It’s not personal at this point – it’s really just an effort to put some things out there for people to use if and when it’s helpful.
Because how cool would that be?