Typically when I prepare for any session I present, I create a Google Form that allows me to get to know the participants in a quick snapshot so I can best cater the session to meet their needs. One of the questions I always ask is, “How many years have you been an educator?” with the options as ranges in years of experience. These ranges were not created by accident; they represent my shifts in mindset throughout my career. These are not indicative of every educator’s mindset, but from the reactions I’ve received while presenting, I feel like I’m not exactly alone in these shifts. See what you think!
From 0-3 years, I thought I knew everything about how to teach. I was arrogant. I had just finished my college degree in three years and was one of the youngest people ever hired as a classroom teacher in my district (I was only 20 years old). I thought I didn’t need to sit through any more professional development; I was developed enough, thank you very much.
From 4-7 years, I realized just how little I actually knew about educating. The training wheels were off, so to speak. I had a great professional learning community, but wasn’t using them for support. I struggled through these years and matured more than any other stretch of my career. I attribute massively epic fails to this growth!
From 8-10 years, I experienced what I refer to as the “honeymoon” period. I finally felt confident in my ability to teach. However, it seemed like no one realized that I might know what was I doing, so I was left alone. No observations from other teachers, little to no requests to present content to my colleagues. It was great. I just did what I knew to do and impacted students with little additional responsibility.
Then, somewhere around year 10, administration and those with a higher pay grade than me figured out that my story might benefit other educators. So I started presenting and having people come observe. By no means do I believe that I’m an expert; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I know enough about lots of things to be dangerous. However, I’m comfortable saying that I don’t know when I don’t know and am always looking to grow and learn. (I’ve just started my 13th year – Lucky 13!)
Then I suspect, around year 16-20, I will wonder if this is what I want to do for the rest of my career. I’m invested enough to be fearful of losing retirement benefits, but am I really sure I can continue this pace for another 10-14 years. Finally, year 20 and beyond, I believe I will be calculating my time left to teach and feel that it will be bittersweet. While I love educating (thus my twitter handle @iluveducating), knowing that I will only be 50 years old when I reach retirement, I can begin traveling and hopefully continue to impact education through other avenues. Or I may not leave at all. If given the choice right this minute, I’d still get up and go every morning! I enjoy it that much!
Book 28 released by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc is all about that perfect teacher. You know the one… comes in every day, perfect teaching outfit, beautiful classroom with perfectly laminated posters covering the wall (How do they manage to laminate so perfectly? I always have an edge that is peeling!), students are amazingly well-behaved, scores are phenomenal, all the parents love them and administration thinks they walk on water. They have no idea what Pinterest-Fail even means because everything they touch educationally turns to gold. Okay, so I may be exaggerating, but you get the point. It was the teacher I was trying to be my first three years of teaching. The veteran teachers made it look so simple. They were the epitome of a perfect teacher! The thing is… these perfect teachers… they’re unicorns, leprechauns, centaurs… they don’t exist. And book 28’s author Aaron Hogan is out to prove it in Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth!
This book was a quick read if you just read it at the surface level. I was able to finish it in about 2 hours, but I don’t recommend that you approach the book in this manner. In fact, neither does Aaron. This is a book that you will want to read a chapter, put it down, reflect, write, sleep, then come back to it a few days later. It’s powerful and honestly, pretty heavy at some points. It’s important to note that “heavy” is not a bad thing! Aaron is pushing us to not just survive in the teaching world, but to THRIVE as an educator! In order to THRIVE, he suggests:
T – Teaching Expectations
H – Hook Your Students
R – Reject Isolation
I – Imagine It Better
V – Value Vulnerability
E – Everyday Every Day
Aaron is very clear and quick to say that these suggestions are not a “fix-it” to every problem we will face. It will not prevent failure and it will not be effortless. Because of the depth of each of these suggestions, it is really in the best interest of the reader to take bite-sized chunks of this book. (This is clearly a “do as I say, not as I do” statement right now. Just trust me. I’ll take bite-sized chunks in the future because it was fantastic and I want to really spend time on a deep dive of this one.)
In Teaching Expectations, Aaron says that we need to model, teach, reteach, review, model – all those things we’d do for content pedagogy, that we consider to just be “good teaching” – we need to be doing those things for teaching behaviors as well! I love when he flips the script and asks if we’d send a student out of the classroom for not mastering the content. Instead, we’d find ways to reteach. It’s not three strikes and you’re out for mastering content, so why do we use philosophies like that for behavior? We can’t assume students know how to behave. We must teach them and set high expectations.
Hook Your Students was awesome because it took me back to Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. We need the constant reminder to do all we can do grab our students’ attention before we even begin to deliver the content.
Reject Isolation speaks to being a connected educator. Read about Aaron’s journey on social media and how it’s impacted him as an educator. We do not have to be in a silo anymore. Social media gives us a way out; it allows us to find “our people”. I can’t imagine my life (both professionally and personally) without the amazing PLN of which I get to be a part. I love you all!
Imagine It Better was a real gut-check. Spend some time here. What can you imagine doing better? What sacred cows can be slain? When you’re trying to be innovative, everything is back on the table. I’m really looking forward to revisiting this section!
Value Vulnerability speaks for itself. I love how Aaron spins this to be not only our own vulnerability but the vulnerability of others as well. He discusses being honest in your uncertainty and quieting the whispers that happen between adults in our schools.
Finally, the part that resonated with me and has inspired my implementation plan is Everyday Every Day. This section is about building authentic relationships with students and teachers. Aaron talks about positioning yourself to get to know your students and staff. He repurposed his time in the hallways to “make it about more than just enforcing expectations”. His Selfie of the Day idea was phenomenal! I love the connections he was able to make with students and the impact it had on his school! I do very well connecting with my students. If I’m being honest, building rapport with students is one of my strengths as an educator. However, I’ve noticed that the past two years have been a struggle for me to get to know my 6th grade students. Sure I know the surface level information, but I feel guilty when they see me really connect with my 8th graders (because I’ve had them for a couple of years). While I don’t want to force the connection and I know real relationships take time, I want to build a stronger foundation with my 6th grade students. So that is my implementation for this year. I’m honestly not sure how to go about making this happen quite yet. I need to think through it a bit more. On #HiveSummit Matt Miller (author of Ditch That Textbook and another DBC book that you’ll hear about later in #DBC50Summer) suggests using Google Slides as a getting to know you activity (also read about this idea & suggested as implementation plan in Teaching Math with Google Apps by Alice Keeler and the late Diana Herrington). Michael Matera (creator of #HiveSummit – see website here – and author of Explore Like A Pirate) says he’d like to try this, and I think I might like that as well. There are 150 6th grade students coming in this year, so I need this implementation to be realistic while still making an impact. The Google Slides might just be the way to meet both criteria, but I’m going to continue investigating options of how to intentionally build a strong foundation with my 6th grade students, as well as new students who come in throughout the year.
Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth is a yet another wonderful addition to the DBC, Inc line up. I appreciate Aaron’s willingness to share some of his epic fails and believe this book was really written for anyone and everyone in education. There were some places where I was nodding my head, while I was scratching my head in others. I’m excited to dive into this deeper in the future because I have no doubts that I will be pushed out of my comfort zone and constantly reminded that I should be intentional about the decisions I make in education.
You can follow along with the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TeacherMyth and I encourage you to join the chat on Tuesday nights from 9:30 – 10:00 pm EST using the same hashtag! This is a wonderful community of encouraging educators! Another terrific resource is Aaron’s blog! He also shares questions and resources from the book here. Vicki Davis hosted Aaron on the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast and you can listen here. You can also subscribe to Aaron’s YouTube channel to see some of the videos he mentions in the book. As always, the flipgrid (idea from the phenomenal Andrea Paulakovich) is available for you to share your thoughts and reflections. If prompted for a password, use DBCSummer. This space is designed to be a global collaboration and reflection space on all DBC books, so please don’t feel limited by the question, just share your thoughts! The question is only there if you need it to start conversation.
Check out my twitter reflections from my reading of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth.
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) August 5, 2018
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) August 6, 2018
Yes! The implementation of #DBC50Summer is most important! If rdg 50+ @dbc_inc books is hard, wait til I make every effort to change my teaching practice from each book in 2018-19! If I read, but make no change, what’s the point?! #tlap #LeadLAP #TeacherMyth #BookSnaps pic.twitter.com/ADtYbO5uW9
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) August 6, 2018
I am so excited to finally be able to read Social Leadia by Jennifer Casa-Todd! I won this book in a #DBCChallenge and am so excited to dig into it! I had wanted it for a long time before winning it! Dave and DBC, Inc even sent me an autographed copy of the book, so that makes it even cooler! So glad Tara Martin made the Captain pose for a quick picture with my book before it was sent my way! That was a huge surprise!
— Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. (@dbc_inc) June 2, 2018
Let’s go with Book 29! Blog will be up in a few days.