Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything I Learned About Education I Learned From Watching WWE #edchat

In honor of the 1,000 Episode of Monday Night Raw tonight, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back and old stable of The Nerdy Teacher.

Growing up, I used to watch the WWE (WWWF back in the day) frequently. I would watch on Saturdays and then make my own wrestling magazine filled with highlights to share with my friends who were not allowed to watch for a quarter a view. A teacher busted me and took my mags away. Stifling an aspiring writer. My Dad scored tickets to Wrestlemania when it was at the Pontiac Silverdome and I watched Hogan slam Andre the Giant. It is one of my earliest memories. Anyway, wrestling has been a part of my life in different ways and I thought I would share its impact on my view of education.

Every teacher needs to be part of a tag team!

I loved tag team wrestling. The tag teams always had cool gimmicks and great names. The Bushwakers come to mind as do the Bolsheviks. They worked together to obtain the coveted Tag Team Championship belts. The teams worked hard and had each other's backs no matter what the circumstances. If you can't count on your tag team partner, who can you count on?

Teaching needs to be more of a tag team sport. We are up against some very big numbers every single day, it seems silly to go at it solo. Every class can be like a Royal Rumble. There is tremendous value in having a tag team partner at your side. Being a lone wolf might get you some places, but a tag team partner will allow you to accomplish things not possible on your own. Teachers need to break out of the independent model of instruction and look to others for support and guidance. The best tag teams would eventually reach out to rookies and mentor them in the ways if the ring. Teachers need to treat teaming up and mentoring in schools same way. Granted, the rookie usually betrays the team and slams them within a steal chair in a shocking turn if events, but I do not foresee that happening in the classroom.

You have to think outside of the box, or ring, to be successful.

There are many great wrestlers who are proficient at what they do in the ring. They have tremendous technical skills that make the formidable foes. However, there are those that see the value in taking their opponent outside of the ring to get the job done. They see all of the wonderful tools outside of the ring as valuable in accomplishing their goal. Whether it be the stairs to the ring or the Spanish Language Announcers table, everything is fair game to win the match. This innovation has allowed WWE to continue to grow and be successful.

There are many great teachers that can do the traditional stand and lecture model of teaching and be effective. There are others that need to try things differently to get the most out of their students. While some might look oddly at this behavior, it can be very effective in reaching students who need a different approach to teaching. By looking at the world around us, we can see the many great tools out there. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones that chose to be different and told me it was ok to be different. Without innovators, any business will fold in time. Education is no different. The WWE has been innovative for years and the best teachers are innovators as well.

You have to put on a show.

There have been wonderfully sound wrestlers with tremendous wrestling skills, but they never lasted very long because they could not work the crowd. If they could not rock the mic, they never made the cut. Wrestling is a very important part of the job, but so is the show. The Rock was a fun guy to watch because he always told you what he was cookin'. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Degeneration X were fun to watch in the ring, but more entertaining on the mics. There is something all teachers can take away from this.

I have know some of the most knowledgable teachers in the world, but they are terrible instructors. There needs to be a flair in your teaching and I think it comes from the passion teachers need to have for their craft. Every class is another show where we try to engage our audience in the story we are trying to tell. All of our favorite teachers were masters at keeping our attention no matter the topic. Wrestlers have the same ability. Do we really care about the weird storyline? No, but they seem it with a passion that is entrancing. I haven't watched wrestling on a regular basis in over 10 years, but I have been sucked in on multiple occasions while some guy was ranting and raving about his current adversary. Passion is infectious and teachers need to show that in the classroom.

The best characters evolve over time.

In wrestling, the wrestlers had to be willing to change their character if they wanted to stick around. Playing the same tune for too long will not entertain the crowd. Good guys will become bad guys and some will take on a completely different persona all together. As a young kid, it was a bit confusing. As I got older, I understood the value of evolving as time went on. Watching Hogan become bad guy was crazy! Mankind to Cactus Jack to Dude Love was so much fun! Change is important to keep things fresh. This is true for all people, but especially to teachers.

If I was the same teacher from 10 years ago, I would not have a job. It is that simple. I have chosen to evolve and grow as an educator. I'm adding new tools to my chest and I'm striving to put on a better show in my class each an every year. The teachers I look up to most are the ones that have shown me the value of change and adaptation. I find value in re-inventing myself because it means that I will be bringing something better to my students.