Thank you to Joy Kirr for finally putting some of her thoughtful and innovative practices together in Shift This. I don’t know Joy, but I do owe her a big thank you for curating the 20 Time LiveBinder and answering an email when I was just learning about 20 Time. Since then, I have successfully adopted a day a week for passion projects and led professional development on the topic.
While I don’t want this to be a tribute to Joy Kirr (Ode to Joy), I do want to look at three questions that I took from Shift This that will shift my perspective on teaching. While I appreciate and will use the practical tips like positive notes and creating a class collage to send to parents, what really struck me were the larger philosophical tenets that she starts from in this book. I don’t think they are directly stated, but they sure do come through clearly.
1. How can I be a more humble teacher?
- I love this: “Putting my ego aside and starting to cater to the students’ needs made all the difference.” Sure, there has been a shift in my teaching from the role of content master to coach over the years, but there is room for further shifting. This driving question makes me want to be more reactive to students, both in the moment with instant feedback and listening, and the next day by designing lessons that fulfill their needs. I want less of me and more of the student happening in the classroom.
2. How can I make myself uncomfortable and take risks?
- For each of us, risk-taking differs. Some don’t like to be embarrassed (I thrive on it), and some don’t like to reach out to fellow teachers (that’s me). If I am to be more humble, asking if what I am doing is right for students, then I have to cede control. I have to allow students to have some control of the classroom, and I have to allow teachers in and open up conversations that are uncomfortable, asking difficult questions. I want to do more of both. I like when the students “run” the class, and I want them empowered. I don’t like having the hard conversations with teachers…but I’m going to because I will make myself uncomfortable for the sake of the students by impacting the building.
3. How can I build a professional learning network that supports growth and brings new ideas and challenges to me?
- I’m fairly new to Twitter and blogging. I retweet when I mean to love or respond. I’ll get it eventually, but the level of thought and interaction is inspiring. I need to be intentional in creating my PLN, and I have to learn that it is ok to be vulnerable. I admit that I started wanting to give a good impression, but I’m beginning not to care about that. I just want to grow and learn, and I am beginning to trust that those who I am learning with are full of grace and favor for one another. The presence of a PLN impacts a large group of people.
So, thanks Joy Kirr, for being a catalyst for these thoughts. I’ll bet the kids love you and your classroom because of your authenticity and thoughtfulness. Shift This is inspiring, tangible and not overwhelming, and I think that is what you were shooting for.