I love connected educators. While I have no hard data to prove this, I believe that educators who tweet, join live Twitter chats, and converse in Facebook, Voxer, and Flipgrid groups are better, in many cases, than teachers and leaders who are not connected.
My experience on all of these platforms is that these connected educators are working very hard to be the best at what they do. They share links to wonderful resources and articles about innovative teaching and learning, and they participate in some inspiring conversations that help me reflect and, in some cases, drive content at Times 10 Books. This is powerful, free professional development.
If you’re not sure of a tweet’s intended meaning, why not simply ask the tweeter what she means?
In spite of all the thought-provoking PD happening on social media, there’s still a problem.
As I observe a mountain of marvelous content on Twitter, I’m also seeing an increase in what looks a lot like subtle bashing of other educators who submit their ideas of “best practice.” I put that phrase in quotation marks, because many EduTweeters can’t agree on what “best practices” are.
This bashing, which some people defend by saying, “I was talking about the idea, not the person” is, surprisingly, prolific, which might make you wonder, How can this happen in the education space? These are adults, after all, who are supposed to model proper behavior for kids.
Someone recently posted the following tweet:
Good teachers will spend some time this summer thinking about how they can improve their lessons next year. That’s just what they do.
The tweet was liked thousands of times and retweeted over 500 times. I have to assume this indicates that thousands of people agree.
One popular connected educator disagreed, though, and replied to the “Good teachers…” tweet with this:
The rest of us crap teachers will use summer to rest and take a break without feeling guilty about not thinking about work. That’s just what we do.
That comment sparked a furious conversation that included tweets about unfollowing the author of the “Good teachers…” tweet. Others said the author should simply be disregarded for various reasons. Soon, more zingers followed in support of the popular dissenter, all seemingly aimed at disparaging the “Good teachers…” author.
One well-known connected educator defended the “Good teachers…” author, expressing shock at what he believed to be a “mob mentality.” This was swiftly met with the “I didn’t do anything wrong/ he didn’t do anything wrong” defense.
As I continued to read and offer a different perspective with a few tweets of my own, I envisioned a similar scenario in a different venue with different participants.
It looked like this:
A young girl at school was sharing a poster she’d created for a class project. A few kids liked it and said it was beautiful. Some asked the teacher to hang it up, so visitors could see it when they entered the room.
A few students, though, didn’t like the poster; they understood it to mean something entirely different from what the girl had intended.
They felt it made a statement about the kind of kids they were and that it smeared them in some way, even though they never asked the girl to clarify the poster’s message.
They said the girl had created content like this before and that she should be ignored. “Let’s not play with her anymore,” one zealot shouted. “Truth!” one of the popular kids yelled.
Soon, a few other students, who didn’t know the girl at all, heard the commotion and stuck their heads in the room.
They noticed the popular student shouting at the girl, so they joined in. It had to be the right thing to do, if the popular kid thought so. None of them, though, bothered to ask what the girl’s creation meant.
The ridicule continued. The people who liked the girl’s work lost interest, while the others became louder. When the teacher said they should stop, they shrugged and replied, “We didn’t do anything. We’re just talking about the message on the poster.”
Meanwhile, the girl, who had drawn a beautiful picture of three children with lightbulbs over their heads, dropped the poster and hurried out of the room.
One of the students who had wandered into the class picked it up and read a quote under the picture. It said:
Good students will spend some time this summer thinking about how they can be better students next year. That’s just what they do.
Thanks for reading and, as always, let’s try to hack learning every day.
Let me begin with full disclosure: Before I learned about Unanswerable Questions in Hacking Mathematics, by Denis Sheeran, I thought just about everything math related was unanswerable. Admittedly, math has always been pretty elusive to me.
After reading about Unanswerable Questions, though, I’m looking at math and pedagogy differently.
Rather than talk around Denis Sheeran’s concept, I thought I’d just share it straight from the mathematician’s mouth–or at least from his book.
Join Times 10 Publications founder and Hack Learning Creator @markbarnes19 in the Blogger’s Cafe at Empower18 in the Boston Convention Center, for a fast-paced live #HackLearning Twitter chat.
Of course, you can tweet to the chat from anywhere, but how cool is it to hang out with some of the coolest EduHackers in the world, during this amazing chat. Plus, you can learn how to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and actually build it during this chat.
Don’t forget to add @markbarnes19, one of education’s most influential tweeters (or is it Twitterers?).
School must get all kids to comply. School must organize large quantities of children, manage them, sort them, quiet them and control them. For a lot of kids it may not be a big deal. For some, it’s like stealing their soul. — Anonymous
Some weighed in by raging against the machine:
😢helping my 9 yr old grandson w/ his hw. 2 teachers & a para in the clas. No one checks hw. No feedback. He said “Gram, this is so boring & stupid & no one cares about his!” Last night-synonyms antonyms 10 words. 2018 with 1960’s homework. We need to get back to the future!
One regular commenter in this Facebook group had this initial response:
No, you can’t. You can advocate, you can argue, and you can encourage him in a variety of ways. But you can’t change the school or the teachers–it’s not in your power. You can help him to find satisfaction in other ways/venues and maybe within the school or within certain classes. Teach him to hack his own way, eh?
After all of these incredible comments and suggestions, I kept coming back to the previous quote.
And I wonder, is this right? Is school change out of my control? Is it out of our control?
Or, is it possible that we have all the power, and we only have to choose to exercise it?
At the very least, one expert, New York Times bestselling author Jessica Lahey, believes that we need to keep showing the evidence of what’s best for kids to educators. Here’s what the author of Gift of Failure tweeted:
So sorry, Mark. I left a school yesterday with a teacher SERIOUSLY pissed at me for criticizing “teaching” methods that don’t actually teach. Stick to the evidence and keep speaking up for kids and their learning.
Talk about best practices: Create discussions on social channels and at your school about best practices. Ask, “How can we eliminate old school methods and replace them with progressive pedagogy that inspires student engagement?”
Share stories like this one: Share podcasts, blog posts, and Facebook statuses, in which parents and educators discuss their experiences about kids who hate school and what they’re doing about it.
Encourage participation: If a kid hates school, encourage her to join a club, go out for a sport, or try out for the play. The more kids participate in things related to school, the more likely they are to start enjoying it.
Be present: Talk to teachers, school leaders, and parents in your own school district–especially where you kids attend school–about making learning fun. Don’t let them tell you it’s not about the fun; that’s a load of crap and simply not true.
So, what’s my final take on all of this? I’ll continue to advocate for my son, and I’ll continue pushing his teachers–and all educators–to be the absolute best they can be.
With your help, I believe we can make a difference.
What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia should not be politicized. Many of us, including me, have made this despicable event about the president and what he said in the aftermath of violent protests of the removal of a statue.
Do I have opinions about these statements? Absolutely, but this isn’t the place to share them. Teachers, parents, and school leaders are better served with a discussion about how the events in Charlottesville can lead to lessons about tolerance.
But is teaching tolerance really a teacher’s job? You bet it is.
The attitude that we should stick to the curriculum is as archaic as the one-room schoolhouse. Educators can’t assume their students will learn tolerance at home; white supremacists had parents, and they obviously didn’t learn it.
We can’t be effective educators if we are ineffective at teaching humanity, and we can’t be humane if we are intolerant.
The Problem: humans hating other humans because they are different
This seems so obvious that I flinched at typing it. Still, if teachers ignore it, intolerance and hatred will fester.
Most educators are quick to condemn the actions of protesters in Virginia, but condemnation often ends with a flurry of barbs at the president and/or the perpetrators. Then we get to school, and race to our daily lessons.
The Hack: Teach tolerance
Sure, discussing racism and bigotry with kids can be delicate and risky, but when handled efficiently, it can unify your students and create an environment that is conducive to longterm learning.
Every book in one place
The key to success is to leave politics out of it. Discuss the actions of protesters and the impact of their actions. Reflect on history and similar events. Create plans to avoid hate and violence. When you focus on the dangers of hate and intolerance, much can be learned.
What you Can Do Tomorrow: Act now, while the topic is front and center
Be clear that statements by the president are not part of the discussion: Remind kids that they are welcome to their political opinions, but you want to discuss the impact of hate in our country and how to avoid it in the future.
Be emphatic that hating others because they are different is intolerable in your class, at your school, in your community, and in our society. There’s no acceptable pushback on this one. We must teach kids that hate is unacceptable.
Start planning: Invite students to create a plan of tolerance for your class and your school. This is the kind of grassroots effort that can make a difference on a grand scale later.
Pushback: There will be plenty of hurdles with a lesson on tolerance. Feel free to share your in comments and on our Facebook page, where this post is currently pinned.