Making Gains.

Occasionally I think about the kind of teacher I was 15 years ago when I started teaching, and I cringe a little. Control, order, and power ruled my mindset–and part of that, honestly, is necessary as a beginning teacher. Classroom management is the toughest part of the job, and without control, order, and power, a classroom can go a bit “Lord of the Flies” in a snap.

I wasn’t a tyrant, really, but I remember bristling at the slightest variance of what I deemed necessary on any given day.

This semester, I started posting a daily agenda. Students come in every day, log in to Google Classroom, and they see what the plan is. In Pop Culture Studies, that means most days I have links to the articles and videos we’ll watch, so those who are absent can still keep up.

Today as I was getting ready to start with the order of the day, a student raised his hand.

“Can you explain this chart on that third link you posted?”

So we started with the third link and had a robust discussion that went so much further and into much more detail than I expected.

Given the same scenario 15 years ago, I know I would’ve responded differently: “Yes, I can explain it when we get to that article, after we read and discuss the other two.”

Part of what I’ve gained in teaching with iPads is the ability to roll with whatever happens in a given day–whether it’s a network that’s down, or an app that quit working or a Google search about a product someone mentioned in passing that actually augments the discussion at hand or a student who opens the third link on his own instead of waiting for his teacher to tell him what to do.

Lately, I think the words that rule my mindset are “sure,” “why not,” and “let’s go down that rabbit hole.”

It’s a freeing mindset, one that actually makes me happier and (I think) nicer to my students. I welcome their questions and love when they teach me something–which, in a class full of iPads or iMacs and the pesky Adobe Creative Suite, happens nearly every day.

The world I teach in now is so different from the world I started teaching in 15 years ago, and I’m a different teacher. I’m glad to keep making gains in my profession.

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