Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Student: "Can you help me?" Teacher: "Okay, I'll need a paper clip, some dental floss, and oh, yeah, duct tape!"

REPOST: I'm a huge MacGiver fan, but for those of you who make me feel old when I say that, maybe you can relate to the new "MacGiver" of Medicine - Hank Lawson from the USA show "Royal Pains." These characters do whatever it takes to get the job done using whatever is available, often with unconventional methods and sometimes breaking the rules.

I'm a "MacGiver" Teacher. Just ask my former students. I refuse to allow the status quo to get in my way. If a child has a need, I will do whatever it takes to get them what they need. A textbook is just one tool in my toolkit; it is not the only tool. I will bring in whatever I can to make learning responsive, relevant, and rich with opportunity.

Education is concerned with "outcomes" - as it should be. We must all be accountable for student learning. But you can keep the end in mind and still follow multiple paths to get there. There is no one right path. There is no one right tool for the job. There is no one right way to teach. That's because there is no one kind of student.

Although I shy away from comparing education to a medical model, one that describes disease and cures, I will say this. Each diagnosis can be a "differential diagnosis" where the individual is at the heart of the inquiry in to what is needed and how we can help them. In this way I am like "House" - just not as ornery.

To teachers everywhere, especially those who are "becoming" teachers, do whatever it takes, use whatever tools you can find, and don't accept the limits of your situation. The only limits you have to make a difference are the ones you impose on yourself. Not the budget, not the lack of technology, not lack of support from your school - you!

Be on the hunt for what works. If you don't have it, make it. If you can't find it, improvise.

And remember, a little duct tape never hurts!