Education According to Hamilton: Wait for It

Education According to Hamilton Wait for It

Another amazing song from Hamilton the Musical is “Wait for It”. Aaron Burr makes you catch all the feelings in this song. There are so many moments in this song that I cannot get enough of, so many things that make it exceptional! To be honest, I really just want to clap this one out every time it comes on! Beware, it will get stuck in your head! Check it out below, or for an edited version, click here.

Love doesn’t discriminate

As educators, we must not discriminate against any student in our classroom. I know this may seem obvious, but in some places in the world, this needs to be explicitly stated. No matter what, we must love every single student who walks through our doors. Period. Find a way to love every kid. Love doesn’t discriminate.

We keep loving anyway

Even when our students do things that are against our norms/rules and when they are tap dancing on that very last nerve we have, we simply must keep loving them anyway.

We laugh and we cry and we break and we make our mistakes

Creating a family atmosphere is so important in our learning environments. There will be days we laugh together, and days we cry together. What’s most important about the family atmosphere is the safety of making mistakes. This is when learning can truly happen. The sense of resiliency in making mistakes and tweaking our iterations until we experience success creates life-long learners and students who are ready for anything.

I am in the one thing in life I can control

I cannot control standardized tests. I cannot control the budget (or currently the lack of in NC). I cannot control a student’s home life. I cannot control the attitude of others. I am the one thing in life I can control. By being positive, kind, and being a place of stability for those I serve, I can take some of those things I can’t control and make the best of them, for myself and for others.

What is it like in his shoes?

Be empathetic. Let’s teach our students empathy through modeling and conversation. Point out moments of empathy when you see them. Celebrate those with students. The reality is that we don’t have to agree with everyone we meet; we don’t even have to like everyone we meet. However, if we take the time to show empathy to others around us, we give ourselves the opportunity to better understand those we don’t agree with, and yes, even those we don’t necessarily like. Imagine what the world would look like if we all just practiced a bit more empathy.

What other educational truths do you find in “Wait for It”? How can you apply the lyrics to this song in your profession? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

#DBCBookBlogs: Word Shift

Our words matter. What we say forms our character and our reputation with others. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Words hurt. Words can also heal.

I was in a meeting yesterday as my principal reminded us that our students are listening to what we say, whether we think they are or not. She said that we need to choose our words wisely. I immediately reached into my bag and pulled out Word Shift by Joy Kirr and handed it to my assistant principal.

wordshift

Joy also wrote Shift This, the 26th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line so I couldn’t wait to read Word Shift! With the feel of a dictionary, Joy shares words that need to be seriously reconsidered, many even eliminated, from our vocabulary. She gives us alternatives to use and her reasoning behind making these shifts in our word choice. Some of my favorites are:

Allow/Let/Permit –> Provide opportunities or Encourage

Give Up [Time] –> Invest

Have To –> Get to

Intervention . –> Next steps

Let It Go –> Soak it up

My –> Our

She also discusses practices that we need to reconsider such as behavior charts, homework, grading, assessments (that students can google the answer to), and again suggest alternatives for these practices.

Joy and I certainly see eye-to-eye on many of our philosophies and I was highlighting and writing “yaasss” beside many of these sections. Even if you grapple with some of these ideas, Joy lays it out in such a way that it makes sense how these practices or words could be harmful to our students.

For part of the implementation of Empower Our Girls by Lynmara Colon and Adam Welcome, I am focused on eliminating “guys” from my vocabulary as it is not inclusive of all students in my learning environment. I will continue this by intentionally saying “students” or “readers” when addressing a group of students. Joy gives us a list of labels that build up students and peers that I’m so excited to pull from when addressing others.

My implementation for Word Shift is to use the suggested phrases, sentences, and questions located at the end of the book purposefully this year. I love that Joy has us asking questions like, “What drives you,” “What is on your mind,” “What makes you unique,” “How can we make this more relevant to us,” etc.

My favorite quote from Joy’s second book:

“Many of these stressors are not something we can change. What we can change, however, is our focus… be in charge of our attitude.”

~Joy Kirr, Word Shift

This short book is packed with what makes Joy so awesome! Her positivity and genuine soul shines through the pages and I can’t help but imagine her class to be a place of acceptance, warmth, and love. What student wouldn’t be driven to learn that in environment? You can see a piece of Joy’s heart in a preview of the book here (scroll to the very bottom). Check out her sneak peek of the book below (or click here).

Finally, check out more of what Joy has to say by following her on Twitter at @JoyKirr and subscribing to her blog here. Check out the amazing resources in Joy’s LiveBinders here! Be sure to grab a copy of her book Word Shift, and go ahead and get a copy of Shift This while you’re at it! Both of these will move you to make intentional tweaks to your practice!

Education According to Hamilton: Helpless

Education According to Hamilton Room Where It Happens (1)

This song is my jam! “Helpless” is the one song on the entire Hamilton the Musical soundtrack that I can quite literally listen to again and again without getting tired of it. I’m singing it at the top of my lungs on repeat number two and still going strong on repeat number ten! My own daughters know almost every word of this one, too. Check it out here (or below).

 

If this is the first time you’ve heard “Helpless”, you may be wondering how in the world this is related to education. Some of it may be a stretch, but it’s my fave and we’re going to make it work! Ha!

Everybody’s dancin’ and the band’s top volume

With some of the students that have been hardest to reach, I finally broke through with music. In fact, there was one particular student of mine last year who barely said a word all year. One of the first conversations we had was after he shared that “Guns and Ships” was his favorite Hamilton song. I had the “clean” version of the soundtrack playing – which still requires a quick song change every now and again – and he just randomly mentioned this little tidbit about himself to me. I had him. After that, we had several conversations, but that was my “in” with him. Is the class (or is it just you) having a rough day? Find some grade-level appropriate music, crank it up, and take a little dance break! Dance with them! Don’t be afraid to look silly; in fact, the sillier, the better!

I’m about to change your life.

Education has the power to change lives. Why do you think slave owners didn’t want their slaves to be able to read and write? Education is empowering! If the slaves weren’t literate, the slave owners had an advantage. This is why many slaves learned to read and write on their own, or by being secretly taught by others. Having an education provides a level of independence that one will struggle to find otherwise. I remind my students of this independence when I see their work ethic diminish at school. We chat about what’s going on, usually a less-than-optimal situation at home, and then talk about how education can get them out of that situation and possibly provide them with the means to care for themselves and their future family. Every morning we could say, “I’m about to change your life,” to our students… By all means, lead the way.

If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.

So that’s a bit extra in this discussion about education, but think of all the things in education that are a bit more difficult to do. It’s easier to teach to the average student and hope everyone else “gets” it. It’s easier to run a worksheet than to create an experience. It’s easier to maintain status quo than to put in the work to be exceptional. But you know what? Going above and beyond, teaching each individual student, creating experiences, putting in the work to be exceptional… it’s worth it. Every time. It’s worth it.

There’s nothing that your mind can’t do.

We have to believe this about our students. If we don’t believe that our students can achieve success, there’s no point in going any further. Bobby’s success may look different from Tamilia’s success, but they can both be success stories. Angel’s success might appear more like stereotypical “success” than Mychel’s success… but every success should be celebrated and we must believe that every student can reach their own success. Imagine what our classrooms would look like if we truly believed “there’s nothing that your mind can’t do” about every student… yes, even that kid.

We’ll figure it out.

I love, and I truly mean… I love when a student asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to immediately. That means we get to figure it out together. That’s one of my favorite things about the Friday afternoon game club that I facilitate. There are many games that none of us know how to play, but we figure it out together. It allows me the freedom to be a little less teacher and a little more student… try it sometime. Let your guard down and let the students lead. Learn from them. (Hey! Hamilton says it’s okay!)

What’s your educational takeaways from “Helpless”? I’d love to hear your connections! Reply below or comment on Twitter!