Stuff Changes

My wife and I both love doing yard work. Really, we do. Give me a weed whacker and a compost pile and I am in heaven. When we moved to our house over 15 years ago we had a 10 year plan to make our home the most wonderful garden we ever had seen. Well, in our minds it would be wonderful anyway. So you would expect our gardens to be finished, right? Well, no. Because stuff changes.

Last year, for example, we got a new next door neighbor. Steve is a nice guy. He is very friendly and likes to chat. He also has horses. Nine horses, to be exact. In late summer those horses make a lot of dust. That wonderful view we didn’t want to block with trees was now a pathway for dust! We are in the midst now of a new landscaping plan. One that includes a lot of dust trapping trees and shrubs along the eastern edge of our property. The wonderful view of the sun rising over the Sierras will be gone. Its not that our original plan was bad, or wrong. It is just that stuff changed.

Curriculum is like that. There was nothing wrong with how I was teaching five or six years ago. (Well, ok, I had lots of room to improve, work with me here.) But I cannot use those lessons anymore. Those projects kids spent a couple weeks on? There’s an app for that now. You can do those “projects” in about 5 minutes on your cell phone. And the kids know it. I could “make them do it, and most of them would. But that would be kind of pointless. I am supposed to be preparing them for the future, not simply keeping them busy. So this summer, between planting new trees and going to lots of edu-conferences, I will, once again, be revamping my curriculum. Because stuff changes.

You Want Me to Teach Like a What?

A few summers ago I learned about teaching like a rock star. I took a drive down Highway 49 and spent a couple days at Minarets High School, met some amazing people, and continued to change the way I think about what I do in the classroom. If you have never gone to one of these camps, I highly recommend them. They sell out fast, so you have to sign up quickly.  About a year ago I read the book Teach Like a Pirate. I love that book. It really takes what I try to do to another level. No, I do not dress up in costume like the author does, but I do try to make the day interesting, relevant, and even fun for the students in the class. School should not be boring. Really, it shouldn’t.

Now there is a new movement taking shape: Teach Like A Feral Pig.  I have never met a real rock star or pirate that I know of. But we have feral pigs in the area I live. They are not considered good things. But then, neither are pirates. I surely do not want to live next to a real rock star- I have heard about those parties! But back to the pigs, they are usually big- real big. They like to dig things up. We have a friend whose yard is constantly being ripped up by feral pigs. He can’t stop these things. They know what they want and they don’t let pesky things like fences keep them from their goal. They are downright disruptive!

We teachers should be like that. We should be disruptive. We shouldn’t do things just because that is how it’s done. Rock stars are rock stars because they don’t do things like its always been done. Pirates were pirates because they were rebelling against the establishment. (OK history peeps, don’t jump me on that one, I’m making a point here.) And feral pigs are feral because, well, at some point they busted out of the fences the farmer had them in!

I am going to spend my summer planning on how to be a feral rock star pirate pig! Whose with me?