Posted in Classroom Community, Educational Technology, Home and School Connection, Social Emotional Learning, Teacher Homework Project (THP), Teaching and Learning

Teacher Homework Assignment 1

My first Teacher Homework Assignment (THA) was to watch one video created by popular YouTube star, Tanner Fox.  The video I viewed is embedded below, and my reflection of THA1 follows.

After viewing Tanner Fox’s Vlog, there were a couple of thoughts that came to mind in regards to teaching and learning:

  • Students are drawn to people they can relate to and connect with.  Tanner Fox seems like a pretty likable dude.  He talked very naturally and with great energy (much like the student who gave me this assignment), and seemed to be speaking directly to a group of friends (which in this case are his 4,000,000+ followers).
  • Vlogging is cool, and I personally believe it has the power to change how teachers communicate with students and parents.  My own personal ideas are to Vlog a short version of a lesson that students can view repeatedly until they feel confident with a new skill.  Vlogging can also be used to update parents on happenings within any given classroom.  Typed newsletters have their place, but I do think Vlogging can serve as a positive supplement.
  • Storytelling is a power tool for connection, always has been a powerful took for connection, and will likely always continue to be a powerful tool for connection.  Stories around a campfire may have a special place in the childhood years of a person, but I do believe storytelling through Vlogs will continue to have a powerful stake in the lives of today’s youth.  It’s simple, accessible, and interactive.

That’s it for me tonight.  My next assignment scares me a little, and I will be taking the weekend to complete it.  My second Teacher Homework Assignment is to video tape myself lip-syncing a song of my choice using the social media application, music.ly.

This could get ugly…

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Posted in Classroom Community, Emotional Intelligence, Home and School Connection, Restorative Circles, Restorative Justice, Social Emotional Learning, Teacher Homework Project (THP), Teaching and Learning

The Teacher Homework Project (THP)

Jumping Right In

I’d like to start by thanking you for taking the time to visit to the Top Rope Teaching website and blog.  I’m grateful that you’re dedicating your time to join the conversation on all things teaching and learning related, and I hope to build a strong learning community with you as time goes on.  For basic information about my vision for this space, please click on the “About TRT” link above. 

For my first TRT post, I will describe the basics of a personal project I will be launching with my students this week, and what led me to the creation of this project.

A Little Out of Touch

Within the next week my biological clock will strike “33.”  I’m not someone who cares about my age, and the number, “33,” does not bother me in any way, shape, or form.  My indifference to growing up (at least age wise), doesn’t mean that I don’t reflect personally each time this year.  I do.  One realization that has concerned me this year is that I have grown somewhat out-of-touch with the outside lives of my students.  When I began teaching in 2007, I was a twenty-three year old who was:

  • Living in his parents basement (rent free)
  • Available and interested in playing video games (Wii Sports and Guitar Hero topped the list)
  • Dating an awesome woman who would eventually become my wife, and the mother of my two young sons
  • Overall – care free and clueless about how the real world truly works

Much has changed for the better since then, but one thing that timeframe did allow was for me to focus in more on what my students did outside of school, and in some cases, actually participate in some of those same hobbies and activities.  Nowadays, my moments outside of school consist of washing dishes, changing diapers, settling tantrums, washing dishes, working part time, keeping up with Curious George and Daniel Tiger, and…washing dishes!  Needless to say, hobbies are not high on the priority list, and playing video games or surfing the web are not activities I realistically have much time for. 

On a personal level, I’m okay with having less time for such things.  As a teacher of adolescents and pre-adolescents, I’m not comfortable with being disconnected from mainstream trends related to youth hobbies, YouTube channels, video games, movies, TV shows, and celebrities.  The bottom line is, I need to get back with the program and do what I need to do to place myself back in my students’ shoes.  Here is what I plan to do as a reboot…

The Teacher Homework Project (THP)

Over the span of the next two months, I will be taking on a series of assignments created by the awesome young people I am blessed to learn with on a daily basis. 

My students. 

They will each create a “Teacher Homework Assignment” that I will complete, reflect on, discuss with them, and then blog about.  Assignments will need to be realistic in time, cost, and purpose, and must require me to do something that will help me better understand who they are as people, what they are passionate about and interested in, and what drives them intrinsically on a daily basis. 

I’m entering this project with mixed emotions.  I’m excited to see what I will learn about the world we live in from our youth’s perspective.  I’m happy because I truly believe this project will draw me closer to my students, which will then help me better connect with them and serve them regularly.  I’m scared that I will find out that I am more out-of-touch with their world than I think I am, but that is a risk I’m willing to take.

Either way, I believe this project has the power to flip my classroom on its head.  In a good way.

Up Next…

That’s it for this post.  I’m off to start Teacher Homework Assignment (THA) # 1.  My first assignment is to watch an online video created by YouTube superstar and sensation, Tanner Fox. 

Here we go!