The official release for Teaching Is for Superheroes! is still a few weeks away. But until then, you can take a SNEAK PEEK INSIDE the book!
Look for AMAZING things like Additional Praise! Table of Contents! Copyright Protections! And a preview of completely original (and creative, I might add)interior artwork melding superheroes and teachers, courtesy of Kevin Yancey himself.
We’ve talked before (HERE and HERE) about using classroom TEASERS (notSpoilers) as a way to ENGAGE and MOTIVATE students. These approaches can fit a range of instructional settings.
No matter where they fall, such strategies often include a preview, or “sneak peak,” fostering further learning ahead. They work much in the same way as Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.
Speaking of “Looking Inside,” one of the BEST educational books out there (11 editions and counting!) is Looking in Classrooms. You can find older editions for pretty cheap, and the newest is available here on Amazon (of course), with its own “Look Inside” (of course).
Check out this book, and you’ll see chapters full of Important School Stuff like Motivation, Assessment, Management (two parts, natch), and my favorite, “Classrooms are Complex.”
Of course, if you are more of a “bottom line” sort of person, you can just skip ahead to the end of this preview and skim the Index.
You can do that for either book. And if you check out MY book’s index, you’ll see everything from “The ABCs of Classroom Management (Kovarik), 80″ (one of the first items) all the way to the very last item, “Zipper, checking, 42.”
If THAT doesn’t get you motivated to read more, I don’t know what will.
Still, a lot has been said already about Kang (and actor Jonathan Majors), with his introduction as the next major antagonist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’re talking Thanos-level malevolence here.
Understandably, people want to chat about Kang the Conqueror–his backstory in the comics, potential connections to MCU shows and films, his powers and motivations, and much more. But we won’t dive too deeply here, to avoid any spoiler territory. (If you’re curious, click on any of the links in this paragraph and speculate away.)
All this talk about the next new villain got me thinking about teaching. If teachers are like superheroes, then who plays the “villain” role?
Who is YOUR archenemy?
Or at the least, who’s your rival?
Or maybe just someone who bugs you. Whether they know it or not, sometimes this person drives you nuts.
To help reflect on educational antagonists, look at classic superhero/villain pairings.
Sometimes they are complete opposites. Superman is super-strong and a “boy scout.” Lex Luthor is super-smart and a malicious “man-child.” Or contrast the stoic, calculating Batman with the crazy, maniacal Joker.
Archenemies can also be too much alike. Their mutual strengths create immediate conflict. Think of Wolverine and Sabretooth, both with claws, feral fighting skills, and healing factors. Or consider the intellectual enmity between Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom.
Another source of friction is a fundamental difference in ideology. Professor X seeks peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans, whereas Magneto prefers violent uprising and mutant dominance, no matter the cost. Captain America and Red Skull epitomize the Allies vs. Axis sides of World War II.
Remember, these examples are fiction. Superhero/villain matchups are mere illustrations for the types of conflict that can occur between two real people. I sincerely hope any opposition in schools is much less vindictive and destructive.
As teachers, we should use moments of disagreement as opportunities to model healthy communication and compromise. Remember, your students are watching!
That said, something (or someone) that is unethical or illegal should NOT win.
I remember a high school principal explaining one experience he had where “win-win” was not a viable option. Their school building was facing increased pressure and influence from violent gang activity. This principal shared how their school staff, students, families, and community banded together to find a “win-lose” solution: they were going to win; the gangs were going to lose (and leave).
Hopefully, the day-to-day conflicts and friction teachers experience are not as dire. And in any case, we can focus on productive (and creative) outcomes, with student learning and growth as the ultimate goal.
Here are just two resources for working with others (including those you can’t stand):
Now we’re back with another teacher tip from everyone’s favorite Australian nice guy actor playing everyone’s favorite Canadian grumpy mutant hero.
(Quite the difference in personality there. I guess that’s why they call it “acting.”)
Let’s talk about one more difference between Hugh Jackman and Wolverine.
In the comics, Wolverine is stocky and short, with a height of 5′ 3″. In reality, Hugh Jackman is 6′ 2”.
It doesn’t take a math teacher to quickly figure out that’s a difference of 11 inches–almost one whole foot in length. (Or 27.94 centimeters for those of you using the metric system–Canadians and Australians alike.)
So how did a tall actor first win the part of Wolverine?
(Remember, before Hugh Jackman got this role for the first X-Men movie, he was a relatively unknown actor. Check out this neat time capsule web announcement announcing–and decrying–the official casting waaaaaaaaaaay back in 1999.)
Recently, CNN’s Chris Wallace asked the actor this same question (or very similar, at least). Zip ahead to the 0:45 mark for the question and answer:
In his explanation, Hugh Jackman also gives an example of his behavior. It may look goofy to “stoop,” but it got him the part! (His thespian skills probably helped, too.)
A while back, I read the following sentence in a reflection paper by one of my future science teachers:
“As an educator, I need to remember that my first priority is to the student. I need to STOOP and listen.”
There was a typo. She meant “STOP and listen.”
Still, my first reaction was to write a snarky response like, “If you teach elementary kids, you certainly will need to stoop!” 🙂
The more I think of it, though, sometimes teachers DO need to STOOP. Not only when they stop and listen, but often when they interact with students. And not just with younger kids, but with all ages and grade levels.
There’s a whole bunch of research on “nonverbal behaviors,” those unspoken actions and mannerisms that occur during human interactions. Teachers can gain a lot of insight and application when they focus on such behaviors in the classroom.
But stop and think about what you actually look like when you teach. How is your eye contact? Your facial expressions? Hand gestures? Mannerisms and more?
And where are you compared to your students? The fancy name for this is “PROXIMITY.”
Proximity is not just the front of the classroom versus the back, or in between student desks (although such movement is important for many reasons).
Proximity also includes the posture and level at which you interact with students. Check out this quote from Sean Neill and Chris Caswell, authors of the book, Body Language for Competent Teachers:
“Leaning towards another person, whether sitting or standing, is an ‘intention movement;’ your intention, if you actually moved, would be to get closer to them . . . . Leaning away sends the opposite signal. Leaning over someone, or being higher than them, is dominant and potentially threatening because if you actually wanted to attack someone you could launch your attack better from above. Sitting or kneeling down to someone, at or below their level, is correspondingly non-threatening” (p. 11)
So I guess we now know why Wolverine is always hunched over, ready to strike.
And we also know why it’s important for teachers to STOOP. Not always, but definitely when working with students in small groups or one-on-one. Leaning and learning–literally at “their level”–conveys a collaborative spirit. We’re in this together to grow and get better!
And who knows? Maybe all this learning will help us become “the best there is at what we do.”
Unlike Wolverine, however, what teachers do–learning and teaching–is VERY nice!
Find more SUPER-teaching resources and strategies HERE or HERE!
DC’s Black Adam movie has been out for a while, but I finally sat down to watch it. If you like LOUD explosions and slooooow-motion action sequences, this movie is for you!
Personally, I prefer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson less self-indulgent . . .
And more self-deprecating, like in the newer Jumanji films.
The neatest take-away I got from Black Adam is the “student-teacher” relationship between Adam and the teenager Amon. In particular, there’s a Terminator 2-type juxtaposition of the younger Amon trying to teach the elder Black Adam how to be a hero.
Specifically, the film focuses on superhero tropes like wearing a cape and using a well-timed catchphrase.
Black Adam eventually gets both lessons right (sort of). Still, he struggles with more serious, ethical principles like “Heroes don’t kill.”
There’s a problematic parallel in schools today. A lot of students (and non-teachers) have plenty of experience in classrooms. This familiarity can create an assumed expertise about “good teaching.”
In the same way that teenage Amon figures he knows all about heroes (he doesn’t), some students–current and former–might presume to be pedagogical experts (they aren’t).
Heck, I’ve worked in the education field my entire professional life, and I KNOW there’s LOTS I don’t know. (Proper grammar, anyone?) With every year that passes, I’m learning more and more.
Problems arise when students turn into teachers without transforming their understanding, attitudes, and application of effective instruction. Sadly, some remain fixed in latent beliefs and paltry practice. They incorrectly conclude there’s nothing for them to learn, since they’ve been in schools ever since they can remember.
Education historian Larry Cuban puts it this way: “Recruits to the occupation lean toward continuity because of their prior school experiences. As public school students for twelve years, future teachers unwittingly served an apprenticeship as they watched their teachers teach” (1993, p. 19).
This dilemma is not new. As a result, some of the underlying issues schools face – uninspired classrooms, fill-in-the-blank rote memorization, “teach to the test” – are the same ones they’ve been dealing with for years.
Back in 1969, Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner described this narrow student-to-teacher transition as follows: “most of them simply move from one side of the desk (as students) to the other side (as ‘teachers’) and they have not had much contact with the way things are outside of school rooms” (p. 139).
I’ll admit, I made a similar “change” when I first began as a teacher. In fact, before I even started my pre-service teacher program, I doubted the value for going through formal preparation. Like some teachers before me, I thought I knew enough about my subject to teach it. And more troubling, I thought I knew enough about teaching.
Clearly, I did NOT know enough about either.
Like young Amon in Black Adam, I know my share of superhero lore. But I’ve never been a superhero. And I wouldn’t deign to tell somebody how to be one. Especially Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
I know a bit more about teaching. A little knowledge came from my time as a student. More importantly, I learned from mentors who provided purposeful instruction and practice as a teacher. And I’m still learning.
Like the best students, the best teachers are eager to learn more. What are you learning?
Batman’s 80th birthday is also timely given recent news casting the upcoming movie’s Caped Crusader.
That’s right. Robert Pattinsonagreed to take on the role. He’s best known as Edward from the Twilight films, although I’d argue his best work was Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Nevertheless, this news lets us revisit one of the best meme images ever:
I’d argue that age has little to do with being “too old” to teach. Instead, the issue is a combination of a mental, emotional, and physical attributes.
I know some teachers who are qualified for retirement, but are still “young at heart.” They exude enthusiasm and energy in the classroom, becoming an inspirational example of learning for their students.
On the other hand, some relatively young teachers already show signs of being tired and uninspired (and uninspiring).
What makes the difference?
We often want our students to be “lifelong learners,” and I’d say the key is to model the same attitude and habits ourselves.
For some, that may mean teaching the same subject for decades, earnest in learning more ideas and methods to enhance their teaching and students’ learning. For others, it may mean adding certifications, degrees, or more, along with potential career changes within the field of education or beyond.
Here are a few other resources to help teachers maintain a youthful enthusiasm for students and education: