Education According to Hamilton: The Room Where It Happens

Education According to Hamilton Room Where It Happens

This song was among some of the first exposure I had to Hamilton the Musical and I fell in love immediately. There’s so much to learn about education through this song. Bonus: It’s so fun to listen to! Let’s find out what exactly happens in that room. Check it out below, or click here!

Do whatever it takes

As educators we should do whatever it takes to get students to love learning. It’s really not even about the content, but about helping students become passionate and excited about gaining new information. When we can unlock that enthusiasm in students, we’ve hit the educational jackpot!

The room where it happens

Don’t you want to be that place? Don’t you want students to be doing everything they can to get into your room? Our equivalent to this is when students discover who their teacher is. In my district, most students find out who their teacher is at Open House or Back to School night. It always made me smile to hear parents say, “My son/daughter is so excited because he/she got you as their teacher.” I’d have the goofiest grin (I’m sure) as I told them that I was so excited because I got them as my student! And then, the magic happens in our room! Now, I do everything possible to make our media center be the room where it happens. How can you make your environment the room where it happens?

Let’s hear what he has to say!

Listen to your colleagues. I’m working on this one! I tend to get so excited that I jump in with my own ideas before listening to the ideas of others. One of our faculty norms is to “share the floor”. Listen to one another and build the best experiences and opportunities for students by combining the best of what one another has to say.

Not only this, but we should also give students a chance to say more! Give them the mic. Whether you use an analog journal, a digital option, or something in between, give students the opportunity to share their thoughts. The most valuable feedback I am given each year comes from my students. Sometimes, they roast me. And I appreciate it because it makes me better when I use their feedback and grow from it.

Not every issue can be settled by committee

I’m just going to leave that one there. Committees are valuable, yes. Committees should be comprised of representatives of various groups and those committees create options for implementation to bring before the whole. Issues should not be “settled” by committees. Solutions should be generated by the committee, then those solutions are brought to the group for feedback. The committee meets again using the feedback given and then comes back with limited options for a vote. At least, this is how I’ve seen successful committees run in the past.

You don’t get a win unless you play in the game

Sitting on the sidelines simply isn’t as fun as playing the game. Get in the game with your students. Learn beside them. Allow them to teach you a thing or two, or ten. If you play in the game with the students, ultimately you and your students will experience your own victory.

I wanna build something that’s gonna outlive me

Build your legacy, one day at a time, one student at a time, one conversation at a time. Use every conversation as an opportunity to uplift students and show them the possibilities that lie before them. Help students become solution-oriented and encourage initiative to find the problems around them and create plans to solve them. This is how we build something that will outlive us, not by creating beautiful bubbles on answer sheets.

I could go on and on about this song. It’s truly one of my very favorites and has so much educational truth in it. What else do you take away from “The Room Where It Happens”? Comment below or share with me on Twitter! I just love hearing your educational connections to these amazing songs from Hamilton the Musical.

Sneak Peek:

If you stand for nothing, Burr, what do you fall for?

What do you stand for in education? This is what my upcoming book, Educational Eye Exam, is all about! You embark on a journey to the optometrist to find your core beliefs about education, your educational philosophy, and then create a plan to implement those beliefs in your educational environment. Be sure to follow along for updates at #EduEyeExam!


Education According to Hamilton: Meet Me Inside

Education According to Hamilton Meet Me Inside

Now that I’m seeing all of these connections between education and Hamilton the Musical, every morning’s drive to work (yes, teachers are already back at work) is like my own personal pep talk from Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Hamilton cast.

“Meet Me Inside” is a song that gets stuck in my head all the time. It’s one of the first songs from the show that I knew by heart and I think we have a lot to learn from it as educators.

Check out the video with lyrics below (or by clicking here).

Hamilton! Sir! Meet Me Inside!

When George Washington is livid with Alexander Hamilton for allowing this duel to take place, he doesn’t criticize him in public. Even though he’s called inside in front of his peers (similar to calling a student into the hallway, or having them stay after class), he isn’t humiliated in front of his peers. Think about how important this is to the relationship between the General and Hamilton. Think about how important this is to the relationship between you and your students. Embarrassing students in front of the class does nothing to solve the underlying behavior problem. I would encourage every educator to carry a few post-its with “see me after class” written on them, or create some form of communication where you let the student know the behavior is not being ignored, but that you as the teacher are unwilling to call them out publicly. Simply placing one of these sticky notes on the corner of a desk sends a message to that student without further disrupting class and protecting the relationship between teacher and student. If the unwanted behavior is a cry for attention (I truly believe that all behavior is communication), you show them that the negative attention will not be given while still letting them know that you see them. Meet your students confidentially for these conversations.

And if you’re curious… public behavior charts with cards, clips, cute monster avatars, etc. mounted in front of the class… that’s not solving behavior concerns.

If you gave me command of a battalion, a group of men to lead…

I have found that one of the best ways to handle situations with students who exhibit unwanted behaviors is to give them some leadership. Allow them to be table captain, give them the line leader position, have them peer tutor in an area they have shown success. This flips the script and gives them positive reinforcement, and the opportunity to model the behavior that we’d like to see from them for others! The kid who was constantly telling me how to do my job, and pointing out my errors in the middle of class, was given the job of editor. He would proofread anything I sent home to parents. We came up with a special signal anytime I made a mistake (yes, I sometimes mess up, but I’m sure that’s just me…right?). I gave him the power to use his strengths as a leader, without disrupting class. And honestly, he quit getting under my skin and I appreciated his input. Try giving students a group of friends to lead and see if the behaviors transform into sought after leadership qualities.

What other educational, or life, lessons do you find in Hamilton‘s “Meet Me Inside”? I’m excited to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or reply on Twitter!

I am so excited because the next song will likely be one of my very favorites from the entire soundtrack… which is your favorite Hamilton song?


Education According to Hamilton: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

Education According to Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story_

So I skipped ahead… a lot… in Hamilton the Musical. In all fairness, I never said this would be in any kind of order, right?

Every time I hear the final song, I get a little choked up.  Hearing Eliza share her final 50 years and all she did to tell Hamilton’s story shows her true devotion to the man she loved (despite some, errr, indecencies on his part). Check out the song here, or watch the embedded lyrics video below.

Who Tells Your Story?

In an effort to be more memorable this year, I decided to try out a theme in the media center. I’ve never done this before, so we’ll see how it goes.

Our theme is Who Tells Your Story?

The plan is to weave this theme in through digital footprint, cyberbullying, digital citizenship, and encouraging a love of literature. In our first meeting, students will tell me their story, beginning with their past and present. During our digital footprint experiences, we will discuss how their choices online can follow them in their future story. We’ll also be analyzing text in relation to how the author tells the story of the many characters they will meet in books this year.

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known…

If you consider yourself to be a beginning teacher, consider this a little public service announcement. While I have nothing against websites like Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, these sites can only do so much in helping you with class pedagogy and your own educational beliefs. If you want to really be great, talk to veteran teachers. Find out what they wish they’d known. Use our mistakes to prevent many of your own. If you have one little sugarplum that you aren’t quite sure how to reach, chat up the veteran educator down the hall. Chances are, they’ve had several little sugarplums just like that in their class and their bag of tricks is more expansive & real than anything you can find on a website. Veteran educators (including myself here), we’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable and share our successes and setbacks with our fellow educators. Let’s join together to make education amazing.

Who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame?

In my amazing PLN, I see several educators who have retired or have left the classroom for consulting jobs, administrative roles, coaching positions, etc. (I also see lots who are going back into classrooms for the first time in years & I can’t wait to follow those journeys!) Earlier today I saw a student that I taught when he was in fifth grade… Eight. years. ago. He glanced at me across the restaurant and when we locked eyes, he waved. It made my heart so happy that he remembered me. We exchanged hugs as we were leaving and he shared his plans for college this year. (He’s going to be a veterinarian; I’m so proud!) Seeing former students and hearing their success stories keeps my flame for education burning bright!

What legacy will you be leaving with the students you serve this year? How will they remember you? How will they tell your story?

What other lessons in education and life do you see in the lyrics of “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?” from Hamilton the Musical? Comment below or reply on Twitter! I love seeing the different perspectives on some of my favorite Hamilton songs! Stay tuned for more Education According to Hamilton! Which song should we do next?