Category Archives: #ideas

Step 1: Buy the kit

When I first started teaching, I was fortunate to walk into a fully stocked Chemistry classroom. It was a Chemistry teacher’s dream room. Problem was I didn’t know how to use the stuff. Well, I mean I had a degree in Chemistry so I knew how to physically use everything; I didn’t know why I should be using it.

So, I went to the catalog and ordered some kits.

The kits have it all: lab manuals (teacher and student copies), everything pre-measured, all the right equipment, and expected results. Now I just had to photocopy everything (yes, I used to use paper. A LOT!!) and the lab would run itself.

Now that I had experience to guide me, I knew everything I needed for the lab. I found cheaper ways to buy the chemicals, I reused equipment from the kit, and I rewrote the lab sheet to make it work better for my classroom.

The best advice I can give anyone just starting out in teaching or teaching a class they have never bought before: buy the kit first. Let someone else do all the prep work so you can make the activity as meaningful as possible. Then go about making it your own.


An Idea I Want To Pursue…

My TED Ed Club is amazing.  I love our meetings and the discussions we get into.  The students in the club have fantastic ideas, but very few of them are ever put into practice.  For the most part, my club’s members are people who are great workers, can be given any assignment and they will use their intelligence and creativity to turn it into something remarkable, but they are workers, not leaders.  A handful of the members of the club are your typical stand-in-front-of-a-crowd leaders, but wall-flower is a much better way to describe most of the members of the club.

None of this is a bad thing, but part of being a TED Ed Club is turning our ideas into reality.  When we had our meeting this week, I gave every member an index card and told them to write down “an idea that they want to pursue.”  This was very tough for a lot of them because they had never formalized the ideas that were in their head.  They then had to switch cards with someone they don’t talk to on a regular basis (we have a lot of groups of friends in the club) and on the back of the card, draw pictures of things the person would have to do to make their idea a reality.
While there are a lot of aspects of Google that I am in love with, there are three things that I feel relate to running TED Ed Club impact projects:
  1. The boss doesn’t interfere with the employee’s passions
  2. All projects must be audacious.
  3. All goals (personal or professional) must be made public.
I discussed these three goals with the club and then dropped a bomb on them.  Their homework for next meeting (Monday) would be to create a blog using their school Google account and their first blog post had to be about the idea they want to pursue.  This scared so many of them, including the vocal leaders.  Most had 1) never written a blog post, and 2) never thought the world would see/hear their idea.  I told them that we are better together;  if we publish our ideas and let the world give us feedback, then our ideas will grow and become so much better than if we keep them to ourselves.
I have always considered myself as much a member of the MHSS TED Ed Club as the adviser.  Adviser is just a title I was given.  So, I wrote my Idea I Want To Pursue on an index card
This is going to be the focus of my community impact project.  I wrote this card and as I was thinking about the students doing this themselves an idea struck:  why not have other teachers do this as well?  So I walked around all day with index cards in my pocket and asked random staff members (custodians, security guards, teachers, secretaries) to fill them out.  Here are some of the responses:
I showed my club the video of one of last year’s Google Science Fair winner and after they were in complete awe, I asked them one question “What makes your idea better than hers?”  The answer is simple, and they realized it quickly: because it is YOURS.

So…what idea are you going to pursue?

It’s happening again

I am a starter.  I rock the boat.  That is who I am and that is what I will always be.

Unfortunately, many teachers don’t like my methods.  They like to feel safe and secure, and people who cause change seriously disrupt that.

I have seen much success through my methods.  This doesn’t mean my way is the right way, just a different way.  What bothers me, and what sparked this post, is the teacher who feels the need to attack my methods.

You don’t have to like what I do.
You don’t even have to like me.
But I’m not the enemy.

Listen to what I have to say with an open mind.  Maybe you try something new, maybe you don’t.  But, let’s, at least, work together to build something that works for both of us.  Something that is better than either of us could have created alone.

Is it too much to ask?