An added benefit to Reading Too Much: a lot of seemingly unrelated information pours into my brain, which then, being a human brain, tries to sort it out and make sense of it all. This weekend though, one needn’t have been a rocket scientist to see the Theme: Showing Off
It started on Friday morning – we were working on a discovery opener (Doc here: Alg 1A 5.6 Opener Slope-Intercept Form Discovery) on slope-intercept form of a linear equation, an activity I had put together to set the table for Monday’s notes and lesson. Except… Friday, two weeks before Christmas Break, just took a quiz the day before…. you could count the number of kids actually *doing* the activity on one hand. One girl turned around to a girl in the row behind her and said, “Look at you, trying to be good, doing your work.” (I took a minute to point out that doing her work didn’t make her “good”. Or “bad”. I told them I don’t judge them that way.)
Saturday morning my wife and I ran a 5k benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County. We were inside before the gun, stretching, and I put my foot up on top of a row of cubbies to stretch out my hamstring. Not really that big a deal, but the ladies looked over and laughed. “Show Off,” my wife said. Friend: “Yeah, can you imagine if we tried to lift our leg that high? We’d fall over on our asses!”
Later that day my youngest and I went downtown to the new outdoor skating rink. Us and about 300 of my closest friends. It’s a popular place, and with good reason. Five bucks to get in, $3 skate rental, and you’re good to go. The line wraps around the lobby, out the door and to the street, people waiting in line to hand over cash. The mayor probably wished he’d have thought of this years ago.
So my youngest has never ice skated before. He’s been on roller skates though, so the basics are in place. I’m skating backwards in front of him, to see if he needs a hand keeping his balance. And here it is again: “Show Off!”. I didn’t think so, I thought I was just doing what dads do, but he was pretty stunned to see someone moving backwards on skates.
One of the cool things about the rink is it brings out a pretty wide range of customers. Families, dates, groups of friends, aging hockey guys, tweener hockey guys. And Saturday, a sizable group of middle school boys doing what middle school boys do. Which is: show off. Anyways, these guys are zooming around the crowded rink, playing tag, cutting up for the girls. Probably not the smartest plan, but 12-year-olds are not known for great decision-making skills. Probably a miracle no 4-year-old girls got plowed over.
So here’s the thing. That term, “show off”, even when used sarcastically, carries at least a begrudging admiration. As in: “I wish I could do that.” As Mrs. Dull puts it, being recognized for excellence is never a bad thing. You could even say it’s an adaptive trait.
We are on a quest in my building this year to emphasize the positive and avoid negativity. The theme for the year is “7Up”. For a couple of years our school grades had us on the state’s Priority list. Our teachers, administrators, and staff dug in though, were equal to the fight, and last year our combined middle/high school graded out as a C. For the most part, we’ve got 80 teachers pulling in the same direction, collaborating, and sharing ideas. The tech team is there to back up anybody who wants to step out and try a new tool with their students. Departments have a daily collaboration/PLC time separate from their personal plan time. It’s all good.
“I literally just heard 2 teachers from the same district talking and blatantly admitting they wouldn’t tell the other what initiatives they were doing with their students building wide because they didn’t want their “ideas” stolen. Am I the only one that sees a huge issue there? As teachers I know we do that (sometimes myself included) because we want to do whatever we can to give ourselves a leg up scores wise. But if our heart is really with these kids, if we really want to raise these kids up, shouldn’t we be offering everything we have to everyone who needs it?”
The bigger point of her post is that we have an obligation to all the students in the building to share what works. Not every teacher is open to trying new things, but when that sharing culture is in place, everybody benefits. It’s a two-way street too. The teachers who share tend to find themselves open to receiving great ideas from their colleagues too. Once the faucet is open, it’s tough to shut off. Hey, it’s not showing off if everyone benefits, right?