Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Turning off my teacher voice

Since I left my teaching job in June of last year, I found that I immediately missed the classroom. This year of rest and rejuvenation has made me realize that it is darn near impossible to turn off my teacher voice, the one that looks for a teachable moment in almost every situation.

For example, I recently finished reading It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, and all I could think about were the ways six-word memoirs could be used as a form of assessment in almost any subject-area. In English class you could ask students to write six-word memoirs for the protagonist and antagonist in the books they finish. In social studies students could write a six-word memoir for a famous historical figure like Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, or Nelson Mandela. In science students could write the six-word memoir of an amoeba or an element on the periodic table. There are so many ways this could be used that I get excited just thinking about it.

Another example of not being able to turn off my teacher brain was watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night. All those creative, funny, heartwarming, and profound commercials constantly keep me on the lookout for teachable moments. This year the commercial that immediately sent me into teacher mode was the Bob Dylan Chrysler commercial. Despite the fact that I really enjoyed it, I am also a bit dubious that Chrysler has been resting on their laurels and rather than innovating by trying something new (something, one would argue, that got them in that whole Bankruptcy mess) are trying to recreate the magic of Eminem's Imported from Detroit commercial from 2012. So I think it would be interesting to have students compare Chrysler's Super Bowl ads from the past three years and examine, not just the ads in their entirety, but also isolate the writing (I am an English teacher after all) to see their effectiveness on a strictly text-based level. Where are the similarities and how are they different? Just writing about this makes me wish I were in my own classroom this year.

I gotta admit, all three of those ads do make me wanna buy a Chrysler so while I am critical of their motives, I can't deny the ads stir the soul.

So the moral of the story is, no matter how hard I try (oh who am I kidding, I'm not really trying) I can never turn off my teacher voice.

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