riding a bike
There is a saying that goes, “Being a teacher is easy. It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire. You’re on fire. Everything is on fire.” It paints quite the picture. Even someone who has never set foot in the classroom can picture the chaos of this image. The saying is meant to be somewhat comical, but there is an ounce of truth in it. For instance, just as you ride a bike, you never forget what it means to be a teacher. Throw a former teacher into a classroom full of chaos and she/he will have the students working together and learning within the first 15 minutes. It just feels natural. That same teacher will go home at the end of the day (probably hours after the school bell has rang) and want to collapse on the couch. Teaching is the opposite of easy; it’s hard and it’s exhausting.
I saw a interesting infographic recently, which stated that teachers make an average of 1,500 educational decisions every day. Educational decisions. That number doesn’t include the emotional decisions teachers make for the well-being of their students, nor the professional decisions teachers make in attempt to balance their work lives with their personal lives. And it certainly doesn’t include the vast number of decisions teachers make around the integration of technology in the classroom. I don’t know about you, but the chaos in that original image has seemingly become a reality.
“let our powers combine”
I wish I could tell you there is “one size fits all” solution to this chaos – Maybe a magical bean for a teacher to plant, to aide in her escape through the classroom window? Unfortunately, while I haven’t tried that one myself, I have a hunch that it wouldn’t do the trick. However, I can tell you that it doesn’t have to be quite that chaotic.
You deserve support. You deserve to be surrounded by a community of educators whom you can lean on when you need them most. In short, you deserve your own version of the Planeteers. In the midst of the chaos, it is important to remember the wise words of Captain Planet and, “Let our powers combine.” After all, who knows the challenges of teaching better than a fellow teacher?
Here are some practical (and efficient) ways to form your Planeteers:
- Start up a group text with your friends from work (FFW). I can’t tell you the number of times that my own FFW chat thread has saved not only my sanity, but usually hours of Googling the problems that I personally don’t know how to solve.
- Join a Professional Learning Community (PLC). Google+ is a great platform for online communities and an easy way to connect with others, ask them your questions or share your own expertise. Google Educator Group (GEG) NYC is a good place to start. Google+ not your thing? Facebook has some good teacher groups, too; Teachers Helping Teachers Grow is on my personal newsfeed.
- Jump on Twitter. Create a snazzy handle for yourself and start reading tips from the educational greats; I recommend searching out lists which include multiple educators, such as “Influential Educators v2” by Edbaria. New to Twitter? Check out this intro video.
they’re among us
If it were up to me, each teacher would have their own educational guru. This guru would sit in the back of the classroom each and every day, waiting to answer any and all questions the teacher may have without judgement. During an observation, the guru would make sure all technology worked appropriately and all students had a pencil that was sharpened prior to the lesson. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, it sort of is, but if this GTL event taught me anything, it’s that the experts are among us.
As a teacher, we are surrounded by others who face the same challenges and concerns we do on a daily basis. They may not be teaching directly next door, but they are there. I promise. Perhaps these other teachers have discovered an innovative way to keep students on task when using technology. Maybe they even have some tips on how to scaffold technology for younger students. I won’t know until I ask.
Ask on your FFW text thread, or your PLC, or even on Twitter. All it takes is a simple sentence: “Hey, I could use some tips on…” and maybe, just maybe someone will show up with a bucket of water.
Feeling a little shy? Here are some freebie-tips!
Written by Emily Kirsch, @Ed_Tech_Em