Philosophy of Adaptation
It is mind boggling to realize that the model of education has been relatively the same for the last hundred years. Educators strive to equip their students with the best tools and strategies we have to offer, yet we find ourselves encumbered by the constant politics and red tape. However, it’s not completely hopeless. One of the best images that I’ve come from this semester with is the idea of the education system is a very large ship. It doesn’t turn very quickly. And while it may not be a fast change, change is still happening. I can go with that. In the mean time, I will do what I can with the time that I’ve been given.
I very much appreciated Burgess’ book, Teach Like a Pirate, but discovered that it dredged up some very deep hurts within me. It was a good healing process for me to go through. I had to come to terms with the vindication that my initial teaching practices as a new teacher were on track; acknowledge that I had poor administrators, but a good one as well; realize I was a competent teacher; and get back what was stolen from me. I was recently given the opportunity to get back in the classroom and teach an alternative education program for Native students. I never thought that I would be able to work well with teenagers, but I am loving it! While I am not necessarily acting out a crashed plane/desert island scenario, I did find myself today singing, “Get it done! Get it done! Don’t want that homework anymore!” to the tune of Frozen’s “Let it Go.” I’ve been able to, once again, embrace that crazy teacher that Burgess talked about. The students now know that I’m a bit out of the norm, but I also listen to them. Even in my short time in the classroom, I’ve been able to have incredible conversations with students and they’ve been able to share themselves with me. They know what I find entertaining on YouTube; that I play Minecraft for school; I play videogames; I play roller derby; I love music; and I’m not afraid to have a random dance party when we need to get up and get the blood flowing to our brains again. Because of this, they’ve shared with me their favorite YouTubers; their own Minecraft creations; geeked out about gaming with me; helped out at my bouts; shared their own music creations on Garage Band; and had nostalgic 90’s dance off’s with me. It’s been awesome! The biggest benefit that I’ve been able to share with the students in this learning environment is that I can establish that we are all learners. If I don’t know something, we can all learn it together, and we’re stronger for it. This is such a marvelous opportunity, and I am really excited for what the future holds. And you know what, the current administration loves me!
Change is a scary thing. It can be difficult, especially when you’re the one in charge, to anticipate the unknown. It does require that you think on your feet. I am so thankful that I’m discovering the immense resources available to parents and educators to help teach concepts such as digital literacy, Internet safety, and digital citizenship. Equipped with these tools, I now feel more confident in coming alongside other educators and parents and encouraging understanding. My biggest education has been becoming a parent. It really irks me when other teachers give me unsolicited parenting advice, especially when they don’t have children of their own—or really ill-behaved kids. I know they mean well, but it just comes across as judgmental, and I didn’t ask for it! Heaven help me, how many times have I done that to other parents?! However, when my agenda is imparting a lesson on responsible Internet use or the consistent utilizing of a digital tool, I can say to parents and educators, “This is what I will be doing with the students in class. Let me keep you apprised so that you can help them at home and encourage them with your own modeling.” Suddenly, we’re now collaborative partners instead of me being the judgmental “know-it-all.”
Like a teeny-little tugboat, I’ll keep doing my part to continue pushing the humungous ship of education. That’s what I have control over for now. And I am thankful that I have the opportunity and the know-how to have fun while I do it!
Vecho, P. (Producer), & Lee, J., Buck, C. (Directors). (Nov. 27, 2013). Frozen. [Motion Picture]. USA: Disney.
Mojang. Minecraft. (2013). Accessed at https://minecraft.net/
Burgess, D. (2012). Teacher like a pirate. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.