It is midnight on Friday and I am on couch tour in Auburn Hills, Michigan as Phish plays their third set at the FirstMerit Bank Pavillion at Northerly Island in Chicago Illinois. I have seen Phish live (in concert, not on a webcast) close to thirty times because I am so fascinated with their improvisatory skills on stage. They are able to segue into and out of any song, key, time signature, mode and melody. As I listen to this concert with lesson designing ears, thinking how I can best use any of their music in the classroom, I am also reflecting upon a post I read today from Matt Gomez (@mattBgomez) titled I Teach Kindergarten and I Don’t Like Teachers Pay Teachers. In this post he is concerned that Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) is creating a “laminating culture” where units of study are used with one set of learners, and are continually being reused with a different group of learners regardless of their learning styles or interests.
I agree with Matt.
I have had many teachers tell me to sell my music lesson plans on TPT. I have not. Here is the thing, units are simply words on a page. It is a reciprocal relationship between the learner, content, classroom community, and their relationship with the teacher that make those words come alive. There are in the moment changes that effective teachers make to facilitate a closer approximation of understanding happen for individual learners. Questions that are crafted after listening closely to learners’ word choices which may take a lesson in a different direction. Teachers need to be completely comfortable with their content area and the way people learn. Confidant enough to jump into a wormhole with their class because the leaners’ interests have taken a turn and know that they will come out the other end closer to the learning goal. This cannot be written in plans. These things cannot be bought and sold.
The musicians that comprise Phish understand sound and silence completely. They are able to freely and creatively organize these elements through their individual instruments to communicate their emotions to a group of listeners at their concerts. Their audience follows them from venue to venue to be a part of this collective experience which changes every concert. The venue changes, the atmosphere changes, the audience changes, the vibe changes. This is what being a rockstar is all about.
I have seen the #EduRockStars hashtag on Twitter used to tag educators who are doing amazing things and sharing them with other teachers.
Sometimes sharing units or lesson plans, but mostly sharing big ideas. Changing other educator’s perspectives of the learning experience.
Teachers have to understand the process of learning completely. They have to be able to freely and creatively organize learning environments, through their content area(s), for the individual learners who come to their classroom. The learners come to school to be a part of this collective experience that changes every day. The experience changes, the atmosphere changes, the learners change (from year to year or class to class), the vibe changes. This is what being a edurockstar is all about.
I also want to share Matt’s disclaimer: First off I do not like black and white statements so please don’t take this post as a claim that I have issues with everything on the site. Also, if you sell products there or buy from the site this is not attack on you personally, I am simply asking you to think and consider my points.
Please consider using anyone else’s lesson plans as starting points and think about what truly matters.
The individual experiences of the learners in your classroom.