- The Student-Teaching Model Is Outdated: Here's How We Can Do Better - September 15, 2021
- Visualize: How Seeing What's Coming Changed My Teaching - August 16, 2021
- 10 Lessons About Teaching from My Youngest Son - June 24, 2021
- Ending the Epithet “Try-Hard” Once and for All in Classrooms - June 18, 2021
- From STEM, Let's Pivot to the BRANCHES of the Humanities - May 25, 2021
- Would Education Collapse If Teachers Stopped Working for Free? - May 20, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part II - April 21, 2021
- 8 Tips So Your Substitute Plans Don't Suck - April 14, 2021
- 10 Ways to Teach Like Ted Lasso: Part I - March 12, 2021
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers: Habit 3 - First Things First - February 26, 2021
Isaiah, my second son, celebrated his 3rd birthday on May 4. When he was born and I held him in my arms, I thought about all the things I had learned from his older brother. I went home a few days later and shared my thoughts with you all, only to come around this side of the sun again. Now 3 years later, a toddler’s lessons for educators resonate more, updating my lessons by
crossing out the old and replacing them with the new.
1 – The next time around is more complicated
easier. Many of us think we have it under control because we've taught this a bunch of times and it went well, just like we've already been through the "terrible 2s" and thought they were a misnomer because we enjoyed them.
As COVID-19 has complicated a school year in ways we cannot imagine, there will be more complexities in education and parenting in the coming years. Don't shy from them. Learn from them, and be better.
2 – Until it isn’t. At the core of kids is a true desire to learn and be loved. I don't think we should ever forget that. It doesn't matter what new technology they spend a majority of their time face-deep in the screen, young people search for meaning. It's our job to help them find it.
3 – Not all kids are equal, but everyone should be guaranteed equity
and we shouldn’t treat them equally, either. I love this cartoon from George Washington University on equity, equality, and justice. Here it shows the true difference. Kids deserve to have the accommodations to be their best. This applies to whether they're in our school classroom our tiny classroom at home. Let's get them there.
4 – Support networks are everything. When my kids' daycare shut down for the 3rd time in 4 weeks, my in-laws were there to take care of my kids. Next weekend my wife and I will get away for an extended weekend for the first time in months. And there are so many educators I can rely upon every day. Don't forget about that when you feel alone, and don't forget to show your gratitude - with the best gift being a heartfelt thank you.
5 – Decisions about kids’ futures are hard, but don't overcomplicate them. I was reminiscing with some old college buddies a few weeks ago about how the big decisions we made - such as where to attend college or start a career - were overshadowed by smaller decisions or ones completely out of our control (we all ended up in the same dormitory, but not by purpose). Don't sweat the details, make your best choices, and then sail on the river. Don't forget to enjoy the ride.
6 – Suffering is in the Eye of the Beholder. I wrote a column during the beginning of COVID about how to teach like a stoic, the Romans who grinned their way through pain. My big takeaway was suffering is often not what is done to us, but how we react to it. When kids do poorly or express pain in ways we try to minimize, we are not being a good steward of their well-being. The goal should always be to support, no matter how insignificant it seems or how many times they let us down.
7 – Modeling is the most important instructor. I'm reading this from last year and realizing I'm getting better, but still not good enough yet to stop being a hypocrite:
I’m trying to stop the yelling in my household and that’s largely because I’m a yeller. My kids have picked up on it and have started to yell at one another. There were periods in my teaching when I was mean because I thought I was being funny. I wasn’t, and I only noticed that when I saw other students acting like I was. They’re watching what you do and what you say, even when it seems like they’re not.
8 – There’s no peace like being home -- unless home is terrible
there for someone. In these past 365 days, teachers have seen the inside of more people's houses than they'd ever care to admit. For many - like my house a year after running a campaign for office - that was a GREAT thing. For others, who have abusive, negligent, or busy parents - it was not.
9 – It’s great to move from observer to playmate
inexperienced, wide-eyed bystander to active participant. Kids love to play and remember parents and teachers who take that time to play with them. So whether it was grabbing the basketball and shooting hoops with the kid who caused me the most strife this year, or pretending to be the monster for my Jedi pre-schoolers after a really tough day, I had fun and so did they.
10 – Experience builds more experiences
character. If one is stuck in a rut, I remind them that the lessons we learn are really just built upon themselves. I often tell kids - whether they're my own or someone else's - the whole goal of today is for it to be better than yesterday, and to think how tomorrow can be better than today.