Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm a huge Packers fan. I loved Brett Favre during the good years, and when he first decided to retire, I was happy for him and his family. Brett had always been a picture of honesty and integrity, the kind of role model we want our students to aspire to be like.
Then, the drama years of Favre started, the can't make up his mind about whether he is playing or not. The sharp comments are his former team/coach and community were shocking.
But now, it seems what comes around goes around, and Brett's glory days are done. Instead of leaving football a hero, one of those players all fans remember with a smile, he has become almost a villain, shrouded in both a loss of his ability to lead his team, as well as accusations of misconduct.
Yesterday's Packer's slaughter of the Vikings was the nail in the coffin for Brett.
OK, what does all this have to do with teaching? A couple of things, I think...
#1 When your time has come, leave gracefully. We've all known that teacher who has taught for so long they can accurately predict to the second how long that same lesson they've taught for the past 34 years will take. We've also seen newer teachers who though not veteraned with multi-decades of experience, have reached the end of their 'usefulness' in the classroom.
Whatever the reason for the time to have come, teachers need to take a lesson from Favre and when the door is closing, exit it gracefully with a proud smile and wave goodbye.
#2 Teamwork, the camaraderie of the good of the all, has to take precedence over personal gain or glory. Teachers need to teach their students to be a part of something greater, working towards a common goal, and let them lead the way, at times. We, as teachers, have to learn to let go of the control, not always be the 'sage on the stage' and let students lead the learning. Letting go of the personal parts of teaching, the need to be in control, can be empowering.
#3 Learn to admit your shortcomings. No one is perfect. No one knows the best way about doing anything. Seek out those wiser than you, and listen to their advice. Try to approach things from a new perspective. By rethinking your classroom, your teaching, you might find the new one is indeed superior to the old. But simply sticking with what's always been done, because it's always been done? That's a sure fire, direct path to destruction.
#4 Taking the easy way out is not always the best way. Giving an easier test just so 'everyone passes' doesn't mean they learned it any better. It doesn't prove anything except they can pass the easier version. Maybe next time, try giving the easy version to begin with it that is where you are going to end up anyway! Be responsible for your own actions, your own part in the failures. Set up a winning play, a sure fire path to the end zone, even if it takes multiple snaps, and you just have to keep getting a few yards each play to make another first down. It isn't about making a touchdown from the punt return; it's about getting the points on the scoreboard.
#5 Share the play book. You want all your team mates on the same page? Share the play book. Don't assume students know where you are headed, understand the directions the first time, or that just because you've explained it, they get it. Make sure you are all in the same play book, on the same page, every single time you snap that ball. There is no such thing as over-practicing a play. Work on it together until every player is confident and comfortable with their role in the game.
#6 Last but not least, be the bigger person. Admit when you are wrong. Admit when you've not carried your share of the ball game. Tell your students you've realized you may not have done a thorough job of explaining a concept and want to try again with them. Tell them the test was confusing so you've revamped it. Always be ready to be humble with your students. They will appreciate your honesty and willingness to admit your shortcomings.

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