Teacher Evolution

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Don’t get riled up by this blog post’s title.

We’re not talking about Charles Darwin and biological evolution.  Although if you’re into that stuff, you can find all kinds of humorous imagery like this:

TrEvolMug

And if you like teacher accessories, you can snag this image on a mug, t-shirt, apron, mouse pad, and more HERE.

The type of evolution this post deals with is that of teachers (inspired by superheroes, of course).

 

YouTube user (and movie fan) Burger Fiction has put together some nifty videos highlighting every film and television appearance of various superheroes.

The most recent hero featured in these videos is Marvel’s Captain America, which you can watch here:

 

You can find similar “Evolution of . . .” clip collections celebrating heroes Iron Man, Superman, and Batman.  Each video includes vintage footage and obscure appearances alongside iconic sequences (live action and animation alike).

What I find most significant in these highlight reels, though, is the ongoing development and expansion of each character over time.  Like these heroes, effective teachers undergo change and growth through the years.

This is where the term “evolution” truly applies, going back to the word’s original meaning in the mid-1600s.  Thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary, we know that evolution’s English origins arose from Latin “evolvere,” meaning “to unfold, open out, or expand.”

This same evolution process occurs for both teachers and superheroes.  And the parallels don’t end there.

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Like Captain America above, many teachers would rather forget some of the earliest footage of their work.  Everyone looks back at their initial efforts and cringes at what they see:

  • Sluggish transitions.
  • Awkward pacing.
  • Stilted dialogue.
  • Clumsy execution.
  • Poor methods.
  • Novice mistakes.
  • Cheesy humor.
  • And outdated fashion and technology, of course.

 

But observe what happens when the years go by.  As time advances, so do your abilities and confidence.  In fact, the most recent footage is downright awesome and exhilarating.

Am I talking about superheroes or teachers here?  It doesn’t matter.

Be brave and dig up old footage of your teaching.  Take a quick look and notice how your teaching has unfolded, opened up, and expanded.

Watch a more recent video of your teaching and be encouraged by your growth.  And if you find you still exhibit cringe-worthy tendencies, challenge yourself to fix those bad habits.

If you need inspiration or ideas on “teacher evolution,” here are a couple of useful articles: one dealing with National Board Certification, and another focusing on a teacher’s journey of “personal transformation” that includes burnout, pink slips, and awards.

Evolve your teaching.  You don’t need a multi-million dollar Hollywood budget, either.  Just the guts to get better.

superhero evolution

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High Flying Falcon

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So Captain America: The Winter Solider celebrated a record-breaking $96.2 million opening for the month of April.  (Haven’t seen it, so don’t spoil it for me!)

But what I have seen is co-star Anthony Mackie (a.k.a. The Falcon a.k.a. A Younger Will Smith) making his memorable appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon a few days ago.

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All teachers should see this clip, too, and take away some of the actor’s enthusiasm.

Watch Anthony Mackie egg on Bill O’Reilly at the 1:00-minute mark, and then look for the main event around 3:25, in which the actor explodes with energetic commentary of his own movie clip.

Try something like this the next time you show a video in your classroom.

Maybe tone it down a notch, so your students can actually hear important information.  And don’t curse.

But don’t lose that sky-high excitement!

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

Iconic Images

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A nifty cool comic book blog everyone should check out is “Comics Should Be Good” via the Comic Book Resources website.

 

Every once in a while, the folks at CSBG post a new entry in their “Top Five Most Iconic Covers” collection, in which they list the five most iconic covers of a particular superhero (or villain).  Neat stuff!

 

CSBG’s latest hero getting Iconic Covers treatment is Captain America, probably because of the upcoming release of a little film called Captain America: The Winter Soldier (coming to a theater near YOU on April 4th, 2014!).

 

If you’re curious, here are the top five iconic Captain America comic book covers, according to Comics Should Be Good.

 

If you’re doubly curious, here are MY top five covers of the StarSpangled Avenger, in chronological order:

Captain America, Vol. 1, #260; cover by Al Milgrom; August 1981

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Captain America, Vol. 1, #332; cover by Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson; August 1987

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These first two images may be downers, but they’re still iconic.

How about more heroic images?  Okay.

Captain America, Vol. 1, #450; cover by Ron Garney; April 1996

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Captain America, Vol. 4, #1; cover by John Cassaday; June 2002

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Captain America, Vol. 5, #1; cover by Steve Epting; January 2005

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This last cover by Steve Epting encapsulates the recent multi-year run by writer Ed Brubaker, with its Jack Ryan/Jason Bourne super-spy vibe, which the new movie seems to be following. Have you seen the latest posters?

Here’s a sample, and since the poster is celebrating the IMAX release, it’s HUGE:

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We could talk all day about iconic movie posters, but not this day.

 

Let’s talk about teaching.  Namely, what is your iconic image of a teacher? 

 

I’ve done some research* into popular teacher portrayals in the Google Images search engine.  Since my background is in science (yes, I’m that much of a geek), I did a specific analysis of science teachers.

Here’s a sampling of what I found:

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That’s right.  According to Google, science teachers are white dudes with bad hair, poor eyesight, and lame taste in fashion–until hipsters start wearing lab coats, but then that would just be ironic fashion, not iconic.

 

Putting aside any ethnographic analysis of cultural imagery and stereotypical classroom depictions, here are the questions I want to ask:

 

What is your iconic teacher image?  What is your “look?”

 

Are you this kind of teacher?

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Or maybe this one?

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Or something else?

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I hope you’re not this last one.

 

Images often depend on one’s perspective, as revealed by this stunning photo collection of famous landmarks.

 

Consider how your students perceive you. What is your “iconic image” in their eyes?

 

One terrific way to gain perspective is video recording your teaching.  Recording technology is nearly ubiquitous these days, so use your favorite gadget.

 

No one needs to watch your recording except you. That alleviates any concerns about privacy, and more importantly, you can take an honest look at yourself.  If you don’t have time to record or review an entire class period, just focus on five minutes of a lesson. I guarantee you’ll learn something about your teaching and your students, giving you ideas for enhancing instruction.

 

Make it habit to record and watch yourself from time to time.  It’s one of the best ways you can get better.

 

Who knows?  Maybe your teaching will even reach “iconic status” (in a good way).

 

*Bergman, D.J. (2013). The portrayal of science teachers found in Google Images and implications  for science teacher education. Paper presentation at the International Meeting of the Association for Science Teacher Education. Charleston, SC: January 9-12.