Cheryl and I have had many conversations over the past months about hiding-- that is, glossing (or covering) over parts of our personality that we think someone else won't like or appreciate. The further I get into this school year, the more I realize that, because of academic circumstances outside of my control, I have been hiding myself from my students.
Let me be clear: for teenagers, hiding is the default position. And it's also the way for teachers to lose kids' trust the fastest. Lots of teachers with lots of different teaching styles can be successful in the classroom, but teenagers see through fake personas immediately.
There is a reason that "Keep It Real" was a thing. Though it was later bastardized into meaning something very different, I am very much a fan of its original intent; that is, be who you are. Who you are is less important than the act of being true to whatever that You Is.
In our rush to improve our test scores and cover content, it is of critical importance that we remember, first, to be human in the classroom. Our humanity, our presence, our care, our relationships-- those are the things that cannot be outsourced to videos, computers, or business consultants, and those are the things that will ultimately allow us to transform our schools and our world.
It's also the way to transform ourselves and our own practice: to be ourselves completely, despite our fears. It is the first step in the process of transforming our classrooms from competitive to collaborative. It is the tipping point.
So here's to tipping a little bit more.
I'm Andrew. I write about learning. I like to learn.