On Tuesday, I was publicly named the Teacher of the Year at Robbinsville High School–my adopted home for past 13 years. It was an honor reserved for only my best khakis.
Cindy and the three kids were in attendance. Cindy took pictures, Dylan begged for food, Chase picked his nose and Haley daydreamed and complained about the heat.
The Robbinsville Board of Education was there. As was my principal, some parents, some colleagues, some of my students and a shy 4th grade girl who wrote an award winning essay about the power of words.
It really was a great experience, one that I truly and sincerely appreciated. However– between you and me– I feel a little weird receiving an award that announces my pedagogical prowess.
I don’t consider myself to be a master of pedagogical practices. I’ve been privileged to work with and learn from an array of teachers who have a much deeper database of “best practices” then I do.
My approach to every class, no matter the content, is a simple one. A simple approach built on three simple tenets (that may or may not have been pirated from a Kenny Rodgers song):
1. Make em’ laugh a little
2. Make em’ question a little
3. Make em’ think a lot
I feel that if I can get an angsty 17 year old to do those 3 things on a Tuesday morning in February then I’m doing at least something thing right.
Unfortunately money, politics and high stakes testing have deformed 21st century education into something I often struggle to recognize. Education is now a complex collection of graphs and charts and diagrams and algorithms that make the art of teaching resemble an algebraic expression rather then a natural form of human interaction. And that breaks my apple-red heart.
Over the past few months I’ve learned that my 3 teaching tenets are the foundation of this website. Each week when I think about what I want to say to you, I start with my teaching tenets. For me, it just seems natural that good teaching and good storytelling are pillared by the same 3 tenants.
So this week– to honor ( what appears to be) the lost art of simply teaching– I would like to share 5 links I found this week in cyberspace that made me –and I hope make you– laugh ( a little), question ( a little) and think ( a lot). Hope you enjoy…
1. Dad Joke Tweets— These are hilarious and a well crafted dad tweet is something I can only hope to one day master.
2. British Rock/Folk band Mumford and Son’s latest single “There Will Be Time“— This video rocks,especially at the 2:12 mark. In fact, if you don’t smile or tap afoot at the sheer aliveness that illuminates your screen at that mark– maybe you’re dead and I suggest you tell someone. After watching the video the first time, I thought for a long time about Kurt Vonnegut’s great quote, “Music is to me, proof of the existence of God.”
3 11 Things Everyone Needs You to Know–This article made me question every human interaction I ever had. Ever.
4. 12 Philosophers share Quotes on Happiness–I love quotes by smart people (not to undersell quotes by dumb people because dumb people quotes can be very entertaining in their own right). But I especially love smart people quotes on simple things– in this case happiness. This one really got me questioning my own definition of happiness–Die Hard, a recliner and a pint of Guinness. It also got me wondering if anyone ever had the decency to talk to Nieitzsche about the brambly disaster swinging right under his nose.
5. The Psychological Benefits of Writing–“Getting important ideas down alleviates the stress of losing your thoughts to time or an overcrowded mind.” This article made me think about how writing has psychologically benefited me. It also made me question why more people don’t write.