Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Same Goal - Different Route

I'm a people-pleaser.

I am happier being with others who are also happy.

But...

Often I disagree - because I am thinking of the kids.

Sometimes I say what I think - because I am thinking of the kids.

Rarely (but it still happens) I stir the pot - because I am thinking of the kids.

It seems as if I go through waves. I'm full of strength, reasoning, and asking the questions that get teachers thinking. I've tried to step it up a notch - be the one who tries, fails, and shares the successes and failures. Be the one who wants to do things differently to see if we can get different results. Then again, it seems as if the very next week, I'm beat down - so exhausted - having to defend what I'm trying in class, or ideas shared with colleagues.

This extends to my Twitter PLN. I reached the 10,000 follower mark this school year. This is scary. I feel as if it is now my responsibility more than ever to challenge ideas that I do not think are right for our kids. I do not just work for the 60 students I have in my ELA blocks. I now work for those kids of those educators who follow me, as well. It's pressure, and a challenge. How do I help other teachers to be reflective on their practices, as teachers such as Vicki Davis, Tom WhitbyAngela Maiers (my muse) and countless more have affected me?

 (I didn't mean for this to be a gratitude post... I got carried away! I KNOW I've missed some educators that got me thinking, too!) What about those I've met in person and chatted over food or drinks together, such as local thinkers/leaders such as Shawn McCusker, Bob Schuetz, Erin Olson, Jimmy Casas, Paul Solarz, Garnet Hillman, Avra Robinson, Bernice Homel, Megan Ryder, Jen Vincent, Kim Miklusak, Laura Bright, Donna Bingaman, Kristin Ziemke, Kimberly Hurd, Shane Jensen, Jeff Herb, Tasha Squires, Laura Komos, Kristie Bleers, Steve Wick, Bob AbramsTim Scholze, Jess Henze, Maggie Vonck, Katie Hurckes, B.C. gal Karen Lirenman, and even very local and in Wisconsin - via Boston - Rik Rowe? What about those I've met outside this midwestern state or at semi-local EdCamps or through Google Hang Outs? I've learned from so many people, and am so thankful to have met them and been able to discuss ideas with them! In no particular order... Rick Wormeli, Nancy Wahl, Justin Smith, Amy Smith, Alan November, Ewan McIntosh, Erin Klein, Darren KuropatwaBrian Durst, Andrea Payan, Andrea Kornowski, Michael Matera, Jamie Born, Ed Casey, Sylvia Lima, Heidi Jones, Sandy Otto, Dave Burgess, Adam MorenoRuss Anderson, Gary AndersonShannon Miller, Dani DiPietro, John GunnellDarin Johnston, Meg Van Dyke, Gail LeGrand, Christopher Bronke, George Couros, Ben Kuhlman, Mary Klepper, Jenna HackerJodi Piekarz,  Joel Pardalis, Gallit Zvi, Denise Krebs, Ben Brazeau, Ben Hartman, Pernille RippChris Kesler, Marialice Curran, Maggie MaslowskiDavid Meyers, Jill Maraldo, Chuck Taft, Tom Mussoline, Jeff Zoul, Justin Greene, Marcie Faust, Brendan Murphy, Judith Epcke, Daniel Rezac, Sylvia Tolisano, Scott Meech, Jason Bretzmann, and Brian Sztabnik?  
And what about all those I have learned from and haven't met yet? Paul Bogush, Mike Stein, David Theriault, Sean Ziebarth, Nicholas Provenzano, Eric KiplingCheryl Mizerny, Sam Sherratt, Bart Miller, Mr. C., Donalyn Miller, Penny KittleStarr Sackstein, Julie Jee, Jill Barnes, Mark Barnes, Sarah Donovan, Ariel Sacks, Kirsten Wilson, Lisa Snider, Jamie Murray Armin, Gerard Dawson, and Teresa Gross?

These educators and countless others - including those at our own schools - are all working for the KIDS. Every single one of us wants what is best for the kids we teach.

I'm between waves right now - strong, because I am trying new things, and not complaining about how things are. Weak, because I'm simply exhausted.
Earlier this month, someone I respect asked a (non-rhetorical) question in a tweet. I answered, including the words "My 2 cents..." and gave my opinion. This educator responded back in a sarcastic way, and I felt that my message - that it was just my opinion - was scoffed at. Why ask a question if you don't want opinions?? More than a week later, I'm ready to write this post. My opinions are because of the thousands of educators I'm connected to on Twitter. Do we all have the same goal for the kids we serve? If so, it should be okay to take different routes. In fact, it should be encouraged - as not all students learn the same, and they need lots of different teachers in their lives who use different teaching styles.

Just before I was ready to post this, Andrea Stringer posted about encouraging others... It's a "must read" if you've been knocked down for sharing your ideas and opinions that could benefit kids. Learning about the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" was eye-opening for me. Once we started retweeting Andrea's post, it led to learning about the "Crab Bucket Mentality." Seriously?! This is a thing?!

Maybe the next question for someone who shoots down or scoffs at ideas is, "What do you want for your students? What is your goal?" Knowing if there is a difference along with finding out our common goals will help guide the conversation. Together, we can then lead it in the direction that best supports our kids. We can use the ideas from the thousands of people we've met in our lives, and keep the conversation going.

1 comment:

  1. I am constantly learning from you Joy. You have a huge impact on the lives of many teachers in the world and therefore many more students than the ones in your classroom/school. I needed the advice about responding to those who shoot down my ideas by finding common ground in our students.

    I am fortunate to have such an awesome PLN that I can turn to during those times when the crabs come marching along.

    Thanks for all you do for the entire education community.

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