Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Teaching in "The Show"

“What if I roll three fives in a row and then fall out of my chair – do I still get to go again?”  “What if I get done reading the page after three other people but before 12 others and I have to go to the bathroom?”  “What if the sun shines tomorrow but the wind doesn’t blow and then it rains for three minutes…will we still have recess?”  “What if” questions from students drive me bonkers.  While I applaud the creativity used to generate such queries they are very rarely relevant to real life possibilities. 

When I saw the topic for the current #innovatorsmindset blog hop…

…I developed an annoyed mindset.  However, much like my primary students, I instantly lost focus on the annoyance and realized I had been kicking a “What if” idea around for quite a while:  What if the teaching profession was more like Major League Baseball?

**What if we discard the current model of spending several years in college learning nothing about real teaching and replace it with apprenticeship in the “minor leagues”?  Prospective teachers could spend a year in a primary school, another year in a middle school, and one more in a high school.  They will “get the call” to the big leagues (their first job) with three years of experience and skills honed for their chosen position.

**What if we started the school year in March, preceded by “spring training” for teachers – two weeks in Florida or Arizona as a staff preparing for the upcoming year by studying scouting reports (Pinterest and TpT), attending team meetings (pool-side), and doing drill work on fundamentals (copier error correction, peripheral vision, and conflict resolution).  (side note:  The spring training trip doesn’t appeal to me at all, but I suspect normal folks might enjoy it).

**What if teachers could become free agents after six years and “test the market” for a more lucrative contract?  Think of the possibilities for students if schools were competing for the best teachers and those teachers were distinguishing themselves in several statistical categories:  home runs, sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies, stolen bases, innings pitched, batting average, and strikeouts.

            Home runs – Each day a teacher gets a student to succeed at something they couldn’t do yesterday – HOME RUN!!  We’d shatter Barry Bonds’ “records”.

            Sacrifices – Give a bit of yourself (time, experience, money, etc.) to help a colleague and earn a sacrifice bunt on the scorecard.  Do the same to help the school community and earn a sacrifice fly.

            Stolen bases – How many new and innovative ideas have you found elsewhere and brought to your school for the betterment of all?

            Innings pitched – Each hour spent preparing to teach, teaching, regrouping after teaching, and learning how to teach better is an inning.  Unlike the big leagues we don’t have bullpen help available so our innings pitched are really gonna pile up.

            Batting Average – Love them or hate them, test results can tell a story.  Your batting average is the percentage of your students who reach testing targets.

            Strikeouts – Gotta take a peek at some negative statistics when measuring the complete player….er, teacher.  How many kids did you just not reach this year?  Each one is a strikeout.  Probably don’t want a high strikeout rate – kinda makes your other stats irrelevant.

After six years of compiling these stats we waltz into our district office and announce “I’d like a five year guaranteed contract worth $8.6 million per year with an optional sixth year at $10 million or I’m taking my talents to South Beach!”

**What if throngs of people cheered our every swing, pitch, or catch (lesson, joke, or pat on the back)?  Or if we left the school building and had to sign autographs for a half-hour before getting to our car?  What if our great math lesson from 1:30 was splashed across the 6:00 news that same night?

**What if we had a 162 day season, just like MLB?  Wait, hold on – that’s fewer days than I teach now.  Can’t shorten our season and expect better results.  Playoffs can add up to 21 extra games to a team’s season, though, so that’s a little better number.  Oooooh, we’ve got to come up with some sort of playoff system for education, too!

I feel the little bit of sanity I started with on this topic draining away.  It’s fun to dream, it’s fun to innovate, it’s fun to teach…and it’s fun to play baseball.  What if we could combine the four?

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