Monday, May 12, 2014

Fly fishing

Being a fly fisherman, lots of people have asked if I ever wanted to be a guide.
 I don't think I would ever want to be a guide but I do see lots of similarities between a guide and a great classroom teacher. Guides only get paid if their customers catch fish. Think about that, there's a lot of demands on a guide. Some of the people that come to fish might be a first timer, some people might have fished thousands of times and don't take criticism or advice very well.   Sometimes the fish are not biting and lead you to enjoying  the day for what else you can learn from it . There are so many variables on a fishing trip; flies, adjusting the leader, and more bugs hiding under rocks and this is all part of the allure of fly fishing.
So a guide compared to a teacher is really not that much of a stretch. Think about all the great teachers you have seen. Did they like preparing, did they get excited preparing that great lesson?  I bet they did! Does every great teacher prepare for dealing with the student that comes in with limited or no background knowledge as well as a student who knows everything and must be challenged to push them forward, I think they do. And a great teachers is always looking under the rocks trying to find new ways to catch fish to get a students on board.
But the difference between a teacher and a guide to me is simple,  guides only keep their job if they produce.  The really good guides make their money getting everyone to catch fish no matter what the weather conditions are, no matter what the customers background knowledge is.  Can you imagine a guide saying,  "its your families fault you're not catching fish."  But oftentimes teachers let themselves get caught in the game of saying well they come from this type of home or the teacher before didn't do their job or blah blah blah blah so maybe teachers wouldn't make the greatest guides but I think the best teachers could be great guides.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What we can learn from Movie previews as we get close to the end of another school year.

I recently went to a  movie with my kids and they spent time exploring the preview posters while we waited.  Than before the movie started we watched the upcoming previews on the screen.  My children kept telling me, "that looks good" and "we have to see that one".

So as I ponder what we do in class and know we often spend time teaching bell to bell, I am asking would we be better off spending more quality time building anticipation for tomorrow's lesson,  like movie previews?  Tomorrows ideas can take on a flipped classrooms personality but not necessarily meaning just watching videos previews of tomorrow's lesson.
The power of text messaging,  Facebook post, Twitter messages or Snap chat messages can be enough to entice and get students and parents excited about what's coming.  Cel.ly is another great tool that makes this possible for the preview mentality.  

One of the better examples I have of using Cel.ly was sending out directions a half hour before class started just to get kids to start thinking and searching the internet to research before class began.
The idea of previewing is it about giving them homework to take some time outside of school and making a more efficient use of the time during the day and getting super excited about what's coming the preview stage allows us to call upon all of their anchor points that we are trying to build up.

 New movies are often months from being released and yet we get excited and get ready for it.  As summer approaches we have a great opportunity to build a preview for our students and parents.  Using time in the last few weeks to get students and families connected and anticipating next year is a great way to end on a positive and slow or stop the summer brain drain.

How?  Class Facebook pages for next years class is a simple and easy option.  With parents and students(if they are over 13)  connected to your promotion page you can run wild.  Post instagram/posters of events coming the first months of the year.  Videos or samples of great activities past students have done.  The promotion page will allow us to open communication and prepare them for the next great educational experience.

When you go to the next movie ask yourself if your students are as excited for your class as they are for the next __________ movie?  If not, Why?  

Any great examples of teachers using this model please share!