I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 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 my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


What does "20K Followers" mean?

I used to want tons of followers. I was excited when more people followed me.
Then I became intimidated by the number of followers going up. I thought I really had to watch what I shared. I still watch what I share, but it's always been a professional account, so I don't really worry that I'll slip up. Much.

So... What does "20K Followers" mean to me now?

It means...

-My words, thoughts, and ideas are viewed my many.
-I am followed by men seeking women. (This is fairly new. Hubby and I get a kick out of it.)
-I am followed by companies as part of their advertising.
-I am followed by Harlem GlobeTrotters for some reason. (I'm not even a lefty...)
-I am asked to speak more often - and I have to remember that my own students and family come first. (By the way, head to #USMSpark in Milwaukee, WI while I'm still in school on June 11-12 and #NEXTSchool conference in Montreal while I'm camping with my niece and nephew the week of July 30th!)
-I am asked to moderate educational chats. (I've asked many educators, as well.)
-I am asked to retweet "please vote for my class" ideas (see why I won't retweet many here).
-I am asked to read books. (I've asked a handful of educators to read Shift This before it was published, as well.)
-I need to be an even better role model for my students than ever.
-I will continue doing what I'm doing - educators must find some value in it.
-I will continue to share other educators' ideas more often.
-I will continue to share ideas from my own book, along with other books that have transformed my teaching - I have a wider reach now and if other educators implement these ideas, students will benefit, and we won't run into so much resistance!
-I will continue to share my own workshops and presentations - again, so other educators implement these ideas, and students will benefit!
-I will continue to try to lead in these ways, by modeling what I think it means to be an educator.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Coping with Curmudgeonliness

You've received an attack from a parent or another teacher.

My husband says, "I'll bet no teacher goes unscathed." Even the teacher that is at school, available to students from 7:00-7:45am, lunch, and then again from 2:45-4:00pm - every day - has been chastised by a parent for "not being available for my child." Consider the teacher that has never once stepped foot in your classroom and yet has told other teachers that kids in your classroom "just have fun," and "there's no real learning happening." There may even be rumors about you that you hear through someone else. Teachers are not immune to attack. We have 60 or up to 300 or so parents who might not read what we send home, or might not talk with their children before they chat with us. We are in a culture where it seems people complain more publicly than they compliment. There are many variables that make people say what they do. We cannot control what happens in these people's lives. We cannot control what they say to or about us. We need to control our own thoughts about it, however, or our mental stress will manifest itself into physical stress. This physical pain or sickness can keep us out of school.

Here's what we CAN do:

Find someone at your school you can chat with on a regular basis. Be supportive for them, and they'll be there for you. No need to spend hours commiserating... just enough to know that you've both got some struggles in life. You're not alone, and you have many blessings for which to be grateful.

Turn to words. The red words in the Bible, the quotes from books you're (hopefully still) reading, your favorite bloggers, or just find inspiration online. Heck, I've even had a "quotes" column open on my Tweetdeck. You never know what you'll find there!

Go outside. Go for that walk, that bike ride, that lunch on a picnic table. In the winter, get out and get your cheeks and ears red. Get outside with the goal of getting some fresh air and sun.

Collect all the positive vibes you get - emails from parents, cards from students, quotes from great times in your classroom. Collect them so you can look through them when that one voice of many keeps crawling around trying to infect your thoughts.

And what else can we do? Ask other teachers! It's what I did!
Here are ideas curated from a session at EdCamp lake County on December 9, 2017 from about 40 or so teachers!
Our mental health is oh, so very important. Don't let a curmudgeon make you lose sight of what you're doing and why. Sure, we should re-evaluate what we're doing all the time, but once we regroup, we need to find ways to let it go...