Ask & Analyze.
So far, we have looked at Passion, Immersion, and Rapport.
1. For my CHES people, this book study is voluntary (and fun!). You are in no way required to read this book, but if you participate you may count this on your PD form for next year.
2. There will be discussion questions during the study. Your answers and comments will be the accountability piece of the PD. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of the post with your addition to the discussion.
3. To quote my Momma, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Let's not get snarky. (That goes for me as well. I'll keep my sarcasm to a bare minimum. Lord, help me.)
4. Have fun! This book is all about how to become a better, more energetic, more joyful educator. Some parts may resonate more with you than others and that's OK. Take what pieces of information work for you and use them. The rest, you can toss overboard.
"Many people believe only two kinds of people exist in the world- those who are creative and those who are not." (Burgess p.33)
This chapter was a long one, but for good reason. It's all about the creative process. The entire point of the chapter is to point out that it really is a process. Creativity isn't something that someone is necessarily born with or without. It also isn't something that comes in a flash of lightning or divine intervention like Paul on the road to Damascus.( The Bible, Acts 9)
"What is this creative process? To a large extent, it is the process of consistently asking the right questions."
"The types of questions we ask ourselves determine the types of answers that we receive."
Your brain is wired to answer questions directly. It's won't think out of the box unless you prompt it to. Unless you ask yourself how to get your classes out of the classroom, you'll never find yourself outside on a beautiful day incorporating nature into your lesson!
Burgess goes on to say that creativity isn't luck or genetics, it's HARD WORK! Planning! Research!
"If people knew how hard I worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."- Michelangelo
I've always loved watching the gymnastics competitions during the Olympics. The gymnasts make everything look so effortless and easy. However, anyone with half a brain also realizes that their skill takes time, effort, and passion. It's the same with creativity!
You see a teacher with some mad skills in the classroom and think he or she is just a born teacher. Not so! That's like saying someone is a natural born rocket scientist. You can't count out the years of practice, effort, and their personal and professional passion.
I don't want to re-write this whole chapter, so I'll just encourage you to read it for yourself, if you haven't already. Burgess emphasizes the importance of "The 6 Words" in this section. I never really though much about them, and have said/ thought them on occasion. I never realized how those 6 words can really be detrimental to one's psyche. Now that you're interested- go read it!
Instead of asking how you're going to keep your students awake today, your question should sound something like this:
"How can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?" (Burgess p.43)
And once you have some ideas- write them down! You can't implement what you don't remember! Make sure you have materials with you at all times to be able to document when ideas strike. Keep an index card and pen in your pocket. Use one of those fabulous apps on your smart phone. I keep a journal in my teacher bag and purse. You just never know when ideas might strike!
Whatever you use to remember your ideas, keep it simple. You're writing them down for two reasons 1. To remember them and 2. to validate them. If you take the time to write them down, you are giving them worth.
"Capturing your thoughts validates their worth, an act that sends a subtle but powerful message to your subconscious that the effort spent on idea generation won't be squandered." (Burgess p.47)
You might have the best ideas in the world, but until you implement them, they're just words on a piece of paper. You were brilliant! Now be productive!
If the idea is a new one, make sure you notice and document how the lesson goes. It might work are a few in your class, but could be tweaked easily for others. It could be a total hit! Or, it could be a total bomb. You'll never know if you don't try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Imagine yourself to be Dory from Finding Nemo- just keep swimming! You might have to switch gears in the middle of the lesson, and that's OK! You might need to make some major adjustments before attempting the lesson again the following year, and that's OK too!
"If you haven't failed in the classroom lately, you aren't pushing the envelope far enough. 'Safe' lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best." (Burgess p.48)
Your students aren't going to be willing to go out on a limb during one of your classes unless you're willing to show a little backbone yourself. Just do it!
" There is no such thing as true failure- only feedback."
" Don't get so wrapped up in what you're doing that you fail to see the feedback that is being constantly provided by your audience." (Burgess p.48)
Your audience would be your students. They're giving you feedback through their participation and attention. We're not talking about feedback on a test, but feedback on your lesson! Be watching and circulating to see what needs to be reworked, added, or taken away.
Last, but not least:
" Try to evaluate and learn from that feedback without taking it too personally." (Burgess p.48)
Learn from it, and MOVE ON! Preferably without mass amounts of tears or binge chocolate eating. If a lesson tanks, well that's just another lesson to add to your experiences. A bad lesson will not kill you. Robert F. Kennedy once said, "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
You can achieve greatly!
Your teaching career can handle your learning from a bad lesson. You teaching career can't handle your giving up after one attempt, never to try to energize your class ever again.
Burgess ends this chapter by encouraging the reader to look outside "teacher help" books for lesson ideas. The next time you visit a museum, the zoo, the supermarket, think about what part of the experience would be lesson worthy. Take pictures and use them in class! Take video! Add extra dimensions to your lessons and your students will think you're the coolest teacher ever!
If you'd like a copy of the Ask & Analyze cards I made, you can get them HERE!
** Discussion question- Where/ when do you get your best ideas?**
I usually get mine when I'm in bed about to fall asleep. Now I keep paper and pencil by the bed. I'm not going to lose those ideas any more!