18. Michael Bonner's Magic

Community Champion

And so the whirlwind-of-learning began again on Thursday morning with the Michael Bonner keynote (banner image above is from his website). The presentation was FABULOUS! I hope lots of people were watching the live stream for this one. Maybe people watching the stream even got up and did the right-hand-left-hand oh-my-gosh-what-is-happening-to-my-brain exercise that he had us all doing there in the big tent. It's exactly what we needed to get us -- and our brains -- ready to go for the day ahead.

For people who did not attend that keynote or watch the stream, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend reading Michael Bonner's book: it is excellent!

Get Up or Give Up: How I Almost Gave Up on Teaching (available at Amazon; there's a Kindle version!). 

And thanks to Kristin, we are going to have a Canvas Book Club to read that book together this Fall. Are you interested? Join in where Kristin has that set up here:

M. Bonner - Book Study/PD 

You can also learn about Michael Bonner and his work here:

Canvas Blog: 5 Questions with Michael Bonner

He is also active at Twitter (follow him there!), and here's what he posted about the InstCon event: let go of the fear, everybody. Fear is an illusion!

fear is the illusion_ Michael Bonner tweet

Heather Hurley snagged one of the great takeaway quotes from his presentation: that's a call to all of us to invest in our students in this new school year to come. (Thanks for the slideshow picture  @heather_hurley !)

You can't demand a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in.

you can

And I just have to say kudos to Michael Bonner, and to Adora Svitak and Jared Stein also, for keynote addresses that did not shy away from the politics of education today. Here's one of Michael's slides about implicit bias (thanks to admin_mlebsock‌ for that one):

slide about implicit bias

One of my favorite things about Michael Bonner's book is the list of challenges that he includes at the end, challenges for each and every one of us in the teaching profession. It's pedagogy, it's politics, it's psychology: ALL the things that are part of the big picture when teachers and students go to school together. If you are looking for a way to get started blogging here at the Community, you might try writing up your thoughts in response to one of these challenges. They are powerful stuff, and I really like how Michael Bonner ended the book this way, asking readers to do something based on what they've read.


For readers who are also teachers — If you think you’re ready to “give up,” ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time you visited your student’s house?

What systematic procedures are in place that could potentially harm the trajectory of my students’ success?

Have I addressed any internal problems that are affecting me as a teacher? (Death in the family, past trauma, divorce, and so on.)

What experiences with other ethnicities has affected your ability to build effective relationships with every student in your classroom?

What changes can I make within my character that would benefit my students, school, and community?

When was the last time you offered to help a fellow teacher become a better educator?

Are your lessons designed to bring cultural awareness, or only classroom content?

How are you contributing to the school culture and climate? Would your co-workers invite themselves into your classroom to learn something from you?

Is your grade level team comparing data, collectively working together to build lessons, and consistently communicating about ways to improve student learning? If no, how you change this?

How are you keeping track of the academic and behavioral data in your classroom?

When building a lesson for your students, ask yourself, “Would I have fun learning this?”

How would you describe a dynamic classroom? What could you do to create those qualities in your classroom?

What have you learned about yourself in the past year? How does that affect you as a teacher?

Do you hate getting up every day to teach your classroom? What could you change within yourself to fix this situation? If you have changed yourself, what things could you change in your classroom that would help the situation?

I am looking forward to talking about these topics and more in our Michael Bonner book club, so big thanks to Michael for his book and for the keynote, and for Kristin to helping us explore and learn more in the weeks to come! 🙂