Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. -George Washington Carver
Super powers and school trips
First things first: a constant thought I’ve been having over the past week is how best to throw shouts out at some of my colleagues (the word “colleagues” might seriously be the most professional sounding word in the English language, and it might also be the most professional word you’ll read in this post…or any post for that matter) for actually reading the last post. Did I accidentally-on-purpose leave it on my projector when we were all eating lunch in my room and basically force them to read it? Maybe. Did they say they liked it just to be courteous? They’re all amazing people who would definitely do anything to encourage one of their own. Did we generate some discussion based on that post? That’s for sure. And that’s part of why they’re amazing people: we legit sat down and discussed stuff based on school stuff, and we weren’t just complaining about how kids are the worst at this time of the school year! (who really needs professional development when you have that? Admin what up?? Totally kidding admin, please don’t fire me)
Second, I’ve had another consistent thought this week: going forward I’m definitely putting as much energy as I have into making awesome field trips happen. Like in all seriousness, if you’re a teacher and you don’t genuinely appreciate a solid field trip, are you really even a teacher?
Admin: “wanna go with the kids to an awesome museum?”
Teacher: “do I still get paid?”
Teacher: “do I have to do lesson plans for that day?”
Teacher: “no thanks, I’d rather stay and deal with end-of-the-year behavior in my non-ac classroom”
If that’s the conversation you have when asked to be part of a field trip, you might want to consider a career in anything that deliberately makes life harder than it needs to be, ya know, because teaching isn’t already exactly that. What made me think of this? Well I volunteered to be a chaperone on a trip to Washington D.C. or “Dee-sizzle” as I like to call it. Now, full disclosure, I am a social studies teacher so I totally geek out about things like visiting the Capitol building, or going to all the memorials and discussing with anyone who will listen all the glaring hypocrisies in each of the founding fathers, or taking in as much information and awe as possible at the brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture. But even with that bias, Dee-sizzle is always worth going to, especially when you’re getting paid to go! If you’re interested in what we looked like when we were there (because honestly why wouldn’t you be?) definitely worth checking the school’s Facebook page #amaniplug. The trip was incredible and I wish we could have stayed another day, maybe two so we could see even more stuff. Last thought on it: as a social studies teacher I was totally amped about going to the Capitol building because I’ve never been on a tour, only to be completely disappointed in a tour that basically lasted 20 minutes, 13 of which was a short film. I guess, especially being a social studies teacher, I should have known better than to place faith in the federal government…
Final thought of the week that’s been bothering me comes from a documentary I watched like 6 years ago. Ever had any of those films you just can’t stop thinking about, even years after you saw it? I got like four off the top of my head: King Corn (watch it and you’ll know why I eat the way I do, Gene), Interstellar (yo I legit wish I could stop thinking about that movie and I just can’t no matter how hard I try), Full Metal Jacket (I mean…woof!) and finally Waiting For Superman. It’s the last of the four that concerns this post, but if you want to talk about the other three please email me! Waiting For Superman, if you haven’t seen it, is a documentary about all the problems within America’s public school system. The film makes a ton of valid points and even makes a great case for charter schools (#amaniplug) but it’s underlying message of heroics or schools/kids needing hero teachers that really frustrates me. As the title itself even implies, it makes it seem like schools need teachers who are above being human, like they need superpowers to make things work. If you get into teaching thinking you’re going to be some heroic figure who is going to transform all the souls you ever come in contact with, you’re delusional. Don’t get me wrong, totally cool with people who want to give it 100%, and real talk, if you’re not giving 100% find a different profession. At least at the middle school age though, not all kids need a hero. Some kids might need one, and no matter what you do, they won’t see you as one. Maybe just appreciate kids for who they are, judge them a little less, and encourage them to be individuals. You’re not a hero if you do those things, you’re just a good teacher.
Quick story: a few weeks ago when I was coaching soccer I made the kids run up and down the stairs as punishment for two players being late to class. I increased the time running when one of them yelled at the other for being late (yelling isn’t encouraging, it’s discouraging and they need to learn that). As I walked away one of them uttered the F-word thinking I wouldn’t hear it. Partially for dramatic effect, I made it seem like I hadn’t heard it, then as I was about to tell them to start running I dropped the hammer “oh by the way, that’s another five minutes for someone cursing!” To which one of the players who also had me as a basketball coach exclaimed “I told ya’ll not to do that!! He’s got that spider-sense!!” Just because you’re not a hero, doesn’t mean they don’t think you have super powers 😉
Here’s to the month of June!
RT @ 5:15
And other thoughts throughout the day
Seeing as this is the first of (hopefully) many posts, I figure it might be a good idea to explain the title and purpose of this here web log (lol @ the fact I googled where the term “blog” actually came from #millennials amIright?). RT, contrary to twitter lingo, for this blog stands for “Random thoughts.” You see, I wake up every morning to go to the gym before school, and while walking from my apartment to the gym random thoughts pop into my mind. Usually about teaching, coaching, or whatever headline I saw on the cover of the newspapers on the way to the gym and on the way back–special shout out to my neighbors who don’t wake up earlier than I do, ya’ll have a major impact on this blog! As for the 5:15 part of the title, that’s when I wake up and start the walk to the gym in order to be there when it opens.
It’s usually the walk to and from the gym where I get some of my best ideas for things, well maybe not “best,” but ideas nonetheless. However the problem is, by the time I get in the shower I usually forget half of what I was thinking about, and the half that I do remember is usually just stuff like “I need to bring a change of clothes for practice after school,” or “I need to grade that last handout today” or “I left an empty can of seltzer in the living room, I better go clean that up before my wife-to-be finds it!” So maybe, with this blog I might be more inclined to remember some of the better thoughts, no guarantees though.
That brings me to what I was thinking about this morning: unnecessary motivation. This is going to sound kinda weird, but as a teacher, I cannot stand reading about other teachers’ methods of success. You see, there are literally thousands of social media accounts, blogs, video logs and a plethora of other forms of communication directed by teachers about how they have seemingly done what no other could do. This blog will not be that. Nope. Full disclosure. Teaching has something few professions have: an endless supply of hilarity. This will highlight some of the general thoughts about education, but mostly attempt at sharing some of the unbelievable amount of comedy that exists throughout the school day/week/month/year. I’m not going to waste your time telling you about how much success I have teaching, that comes with the job description–no need to remind everyone about how rewarding this job is either, by and large no one cares. If that is what you’re looking for though, I’ll be happy to list of some of the nonstop accounts to give you all the cliche teaching stories you could possibly want, just send me an email.
So to conclude this first post, let me leave you with one final thought I had while passing by the Rite Aid this morning: if even one person reads this post with the intention of reading another, I’ll take it as a win…and for that matter if even one of my students can get excited for their project on WWII I’ll take it as win. Here’s to finding something funny for next week!
By Kyle McGowan, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher