So here's the deal: school's coming, and the pressure starts to build. We hear things like, “It's make it or break it this fall. It's now or never.”
And look: there's some truth to that. Fall 2021 is a special moment in the hearts of our people — us, our colleagues, our students, their families. We're all in a time of transition — of shifting from whatever that was to whatever comes next. (Video digression: Why Fall 2021 IS a big deal for teachers that we SHOULDN'T freak out about.)
But look: you and I are in the business of making long-term plans. It's never all or nothing for us. It's “Today, I'm going to get a bit better at this one thing. Tomorrow, I'll keep on that path. Bit by bit, I will progress toward expertise.”
Is there a better investment in ourselves than the pursuit of expertise — of a ready knowledgeability about our work, a time-steadied gaze at the work that matters most? I don't think so.
As we embark upon our great tortoise mission, I'm here to help. Here's where the blog is heading.
First, a series on the heart
We're just past the introduction to a series on the five key beliefs beneath student motivation. It's got articles you can read in staff or department meetings — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 — and it's about to get super practical. Each Tuesday for the next five weeks, I've scheduled a “Guide: Three Simple and Robust Methods for Cultivating the _______ Belief.” We'll do them in order: Credibility, Value, Belonging, Effort, Efficacy. As always, newsletter subscribers get first dibs.
Oh — and during all that, I've got two new YouTube videos scheduled to publish each week, too. Subscribe here to see 'em first.
🔥Want to dig deeper into the Heart? Check out chapter 2 of These 6 Things.
🔥🔥🔥Even deeper? Ask your boss to enroll you in the Student Motivation Course — fully asynchronous, built by me (a teacher) for folks like me (teachers). Enjoyed by over 1,000 colleagues around the world. School licenses are available at significant discounts — inquire about those here.
Then, a mini-series on educator sanity
COVID taught us a lot about the Workload-Pressure Paradox and the Journey of the Teacher's Heart. I want to spend a few weeks on practical considerations.
🔥Want to dig deeper into the Will to Teach? Get quick insights in my articles on satisficing (#1, #2) and in this one about us being puppets. For a longer soak in truthiness, check out Jedi Mind Tricks for Avoiding Burnout — a classic article that I wrote back in 2014.
🔥🔥🔥Even deeper? Try the Time Management Course — 10 disciplines for improving how we steward our time. Just like the Student Motivation Course, this one's fully asynchronous and built with busy teachers in mind.
Finally, a series on the head
Learning styles, how memory works, the role of attention in retention… super nerdy sounding stuff that we're going to pump full of earthiness, applicability, and heart. It's going to be super fun. Many of my “smarter not harder” breakthroughs in the last year came from what folks sometimes call “the science of learning.” This will be my first-ever series on the blog exploring these ideas.
🔥Want to dig deeper into the Head? Know the difference between learning and familiarity.
🔥🔥🔥Even deeper? Check out Dan Willingham's cognitive science masterpiece.
My point is simple: slowly but surely, we'll get better and better this year.
A lot of folks are going to drive themselves crazy this month using hare-like intensity to enter the school year on the brink of burnout.
Not you and me. We know that we'll always be learning — and we're okay with that. Why are we okay with that? Because we keep in view a few simple pointers:
- Focus on the work that matters most. Competence grows one day at a time; focus is its best accelerator.
- Eyes on Everest. In my room, we're all about becoming better thinkers, readers, writers, speakers, and people.
- Master the material. That's the mantra I've been using with my students the past few years. Mastery is fun, rewarding, communal, sweet.
- Together we've got this. I'm taking extra time for writing this year, and that means I'll do my best to provide the most useful, comprehensible, and applicable material that I'm capable of.