Monday, December 1, 2014

Everything I Learned About Education, I Learned From Watching The Princess Bride #Edchat

It has been a long time since I have done one of these posts. Almost two years to be exact. Sometimes we let life get too busy and you forget to go back to your roots and do the things that make you smile. Check out some of those old posts if you have a minute. They all still ring very true for me. One day I will drop all of those crazy thoughts into a book. Until then, enjoy Everything I Learned About Education, I learned from Watching The Princess Bride.

Look, I don’t mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t distract me. - Westley

One of the things I've noticed is that some people think that teaching in a class with 1:1 devices makes teaching so easy. In reality, teaching with devices in the classroom makes life a bit tougher for a teacher. Only after a couple of years of having the devices did I feel like my lessons were fully taking advantage of the technology in my classroom. Every new lesson I want to create needs to take the devices into consideration. I'm constantly rethinking my approach to topics and curriculum because the devices offer more possibilities. I know I am very lucky to have the devices for my students to use, but it does take hard work to plan around the devices so students are using them for more than just expensive notebooks. Like all lesson, planning around tech takes time and is never as easy as it looks. I think it is important to remember that when we see what others are doing in the classroom.

Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. - Miracle Max

Teachers need to stop pretending to know everything. Saying IDK has been one of the most freeing things I've done in my years as an educator. Now, there are some things I should know and be able to answer in my classroom, but sometimes students try their hardest to stump me. I used to drone on about what a good question it was and then throw it back at them to see what they thought without ever really answering the question. Now, I can say that I don't know and we can look for an answer together. I've found that students are more comfortable saying they don't know something after I have said it in class. The most important part of saying IDK is saying that we should find the answer. IDK is not the end of the issue it is the beginning. We have the resources to find the answer. I've had students take out their phone and find the answer. If the student really wants to know something and I don't know it, I'll let him search it and report back to class. If it is a tad off topic, I'll tell him to search it and get back to me at the end of class. Teachers shouldn't dismiss inquisitive students and they shouldn't claim to know all the answers. Kids have a great BS detector. Being honest in not knowing something will create an environment where students will also feel comfortable not knowing and asking for help.

What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel? - Count Rugen

This is the toughest part of the job, but it is so important. Student feedback allows teachers to change what needs to be changed and focus on areas student want extra help. We are always afraid of negative feedback, but there is always some truth to those comments. Google Forms are great for letting students provide feedback at the end of a unit of a semester. TodaysMeet is perfect for an exit ticket system to see what students know at the end of a class period. 

Using the feedback is the next step. It's great that you listened to your students, but what are you going to do about it? I've made changes on the fly based on student feedback and I let the kids know it was because of their comments. The students loved that they felt some control over how lessons were being presented. I've tried things students have suggested and got feedback again. They said the other why was better. Feedback is important and implementing it can really bring a class together.

You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles. - Miracle Max

We live in a world where everything is now now now. Teachers see a new tool, try to use it right away, and are annoyed when things did not got as planned. Any lesson created needs time to mature. For some reason, people think tech integration is different. Imagine all of the great lessons that would be lost if they were tossed after the first try because they were not perfect. Each lesson is designed to engage and inspire students. That is a miracle. Crafting great lessons takes time and all educators need to understand this aspect of teaching. Using ready made lessons out of the box is going to get the job done, but will it be a good job?

Teachers need to be given time to connect with other educators and craft the wonderful lessons that will make a difference in the lives of the students that sit in front of them every day. These lessons are not hastily thrown together. They need time to grow and become the lessons that will have the biggest impact. Let's all remember to take our time and allow our lessons to mature at their own pace so they can be little miracles for our students. 

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. - Inigo Montoya

There are so many buzz words in education that I have a hard time keeping track of them all. You are flipping over PBL or UDL or just keeping your head down and focusing on CCSS so students can be CCR. All of these terms are pretty much worthless. I have found that the brand new craze has been around before and it will come around again. There are also many different meaning to these words and people argue over the exact meaning from time to time. Is it "Problem Based" or "Project Based"? Does it matter? Let the mouths keep mouthing and the teachers keep teaching. We know what is best for the students that are in front of us. That should always be the number one focus. 

I know that I'm a big advocate for 20 Time in the classroom. Others call in inquiry based learning. Others call it Genius Hour. Instead of arguing over what to call something, let's focus on whether it works for the students. Frankly, the students do not give a crap what it is called when they are engaged. Those terms are for people obsessed with labeling things. A year ago, I had no idea what UDL was. I googled it and I realized very quickly that I have been doing it in my class for years. I'm actually a bit of a pro at UDL when I sit and think about it. I had no idea. 

As long as teachers focus on sound instruction, the labels will come and go and the students will always be prepared. Do not fret the new acronym. Just roll with it and be awesome in your class. 

As you wish... - Westley

I really wanted to end with this one. I think it is important to remember that we need to serve our students. I'm not sure how some are going to take this statement, but I believe it to be true. Some students are more needy than others, so it can be exhausting to be serving them more that others, but that is our job. It is not easy. If you wanted an easy job, you made the wrong life choice.

We all have our good days and our bad days, but we need to remember that we are there to support our students in their learning. We can teach them to be independent and we can teach them to pursue their passions, but we cannot expect them to get their on their own. We have been tasked to do the most important, and most difficult, thing in the world. We can inspire the next generation by meeting their needs. Those needs will continue to change and the rules of how we have to meet those needs will change, but we need to do it. Who will if we do not? Congress?

There were many more quote that I could have used for this post, but these were the best for the education topic. Thanks for reading. If you want to share your favorite quote, feel free to do so in the comments section.

- Nick


  1. Great Post! Thanks for this. As a student teacher, I need these kinds of thoughts to keep moving forward, to keep me focused upon what is important as a teacher and to not become discouraged with the process. Student teachers, I think, are particularly susceptible to being afraid of failure (as I have experienced several times already this Trimester) and we just need to be reminded that it's all part of the process.

  2. Absolutely my favorite movie! Ever!

    Thank you for the thoughtful post and the ingenious use of the quotes!

  3. Also The Princess Bride uses acronyms. ROUS Rodents of Unusual Size. So we also learned that acronyms can be confusing for people outside the circle.

  4. Love this. Can't wait to share with staff!


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