The Antifragile Teacher (part 2)

I discussed how to be an antifragile teacher in this post at the beginning of 2015. Here are ten more ways teachers can make themselves strong like Hydra.

  1. Use ubermix. Google Chromebooks are great, but they’re reliant on the internet for productivity. iPads should be avoided like the plague in educaiton–unless you’re teaching a multimedia class. With ubermix, WiFi can be down and students can continue working. In fact, students may come up with better ideas when figuring out how to solve a task without WiFi. Check out this post I wrote on the ubermix blog for more information, and keep this in mind: ubermix>Chromebooks>iPads>Windows.
  2. Go on PLC walks. This might sound absurd, but I can’t overemphasize the importance of walking while you collaborate. Why is walking an antifragile action? Not only are there health benefits, you and your colleagues will also be inspired in ways that are impossible within a classroom, library, or teachers’ lounge. The environment of a meeting is important, and so is what you’re doing while you talk. Try a walking PLC and see if you don’t come up with more effective ways to enhance student learning at your school. (If it worked for Steve Jobs, it can work for you.)
  3. Maintain the perspective that every day is an opportunity to learn something now. There’s so much change. Once you make the decision to stop learning, you’ll die as a teacher.
  4. Give feedback, not grades. Grading may never go away, but I’ve seen a lot of teachers pour precious time and effort into grading assignments. The time could be spent more effectively, especially considering that students often don’t understand how to become better by viewing a letter grade. It’s much better to tailor your classroom in a way where the assignments you create foster easy teacher feedback–even at the expense of grading. “That’s a great idea, but how do you grade it?” This is a question I’ve heard many times. The quick answer is, “You don’t grade it.” In my credential program, I learned you have to grade everything. This is bonkers. Instead, take the stance that every assignment deserves “feedback”, and the feedback doesn’t necessarily have to come from you. It could come from students or other teachers. This approach will strengthen you as a teacher by providing more time, fostering your creativity with student assignments, and allowing flexibility within your work day.
  5. Give less homework (or no homework). I don’t want to make a blanket statement and say that you should never give homework under any circumstances, but I think we need to have a long conversation about why we give homework. Is it to strengthen skills and knowledge of content, or is it to ensure students are being compliant? It’s an interesting debate, and a great place to start is right here.
  6. Ditch your textbook. What would happen if school districts decided to write their own textbooks? What could you do with the money? How empowered would teachers feel? Could this help establish an antifragile school district?
  7. Get really good at a few skills. In my first post for becoming an antifragile teacher, I wrote you should learn as many skills as possible. This is true, but I’d like to add that you should never underestimate the importance of being really good at a select few. This will make you invaluable within any organization.
  8. Build your Professional Learning Network (PLN). Twitter is a must,–chances are you found this post via Twitter. Social media is important, but face-to-face interactions are much stronger, which leads to…
  9. Attend conferences. I’ve stated before that you must “read, read, and then read some more.” The great thing about conferences is you can learn and build your PLN at the same time. It’s like reading a book and making a friend simultaneously.
  10. Read Seneca’s work. I know this is random, but Seneca’s stoic philosophy will teach you to be antifragile in every area of your life, which will inevitably make you a better teacher.

Read Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

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