Are you a bobblehead or a bumblebee?

As I look around life, I see two types of people: bobbleheads and bumblebees.

Bobbleheads say “yes” with their heads but their feet don't move.

Bobbleheads are like those little men on the dash whose heads nod up and down based on the movement of the vehicle they are in.

The bobbleheads in life are often called “yes men” but this is more than that. These are the echoes.

If everyone is complaining about test scores, that is what they complain about. If people are saying students are sorry these days, that's the bandwagon they ride on. If collaborative learning is the “new thing” that is the “thing” they are doing prolifically in their classroom. He has no opinion. No thoughts. He just follows the tide and echoes the sentiment. He makes a few pundits' voices turn into a roar.

There is one characteristic of a bobble head — his head moves. His feet don't.

He agrees in voice but he doesn't change a thing. A bobblehead's feet are stuck. Ask him about a class he took last week and he'll tell you a thousand things he liked, but he's still using lesson plans from ten years a go. His students write everything by hand. There is no automation.

A bobblehead may nod in a direction but he never moves in any direction. A bobblehead does the same thing day in and day out. He doesn't really change what he does. He doesn't seek variety. He just sticks like adhesive glue to wherever he was stuck years a go when he became a bobblehead. And, he nods gratutiously whichever direction the automobile swerves at the moment.

He is a fixture. He doesn't contribute in any way but rather, takes up space. He makes us think we have his support because he's always nodding at us.

But, he's a bobblehead, that is what he does.

The world is full of them. Teachers and educators who realize that the only people who are ever in danger in education are the really poor teacher or the really exceptional. People who agree pliantly with everything from the top but do their own thing are usually safe.

We need less bobbleheads. We need more people who pry them up and challenge them that there is a better way.

We need more people afraid of what bobbleheads do…make more bobbleheads.

Then there's the bumblebee, freak of nature.

Then, there are the bumblebees. You see, bumblebees are a feat (or shall I say freak) of nature. Years a go a mathematician conjectured that according to aerodynamics and the ratio of wingspan to body weight that a Bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly. Nobody told the bumblebee.

Because it is “ignorant” of its limitations, it flies every day. Not only that, it gleans nectar from many sources and makes honey too.

Bumblebees are busy. I photographed some busy in my pink azaleas this past Saturday. They worked efficiently and visited many blooms before buzzing off to their far off hive. They processed the nectar. They did their assigned job in the hive and then flew out again in search of more nectar. They didn't bother me as I photographed, they were too busy to turn their barb my way.

Bumblebees make things happen that aren't supposed to happen. They bring classrooms to the cutting edge that are underfunded and understaffed. They excite students who are forgotten and unloved (except by the bumblebee.) They reach past what the students aren't supposed to be able to do into the hive of excellence. When they find an exceptionally large supply of nectar, they lead other bees to the source. They follow orders and do their job, but they do things that just can't happen.

But, bumblebees are scary. They can sting if they are made angry. They can swarm and really hurt somebody, even kill a person who is allergic or the swarm is big enough. Interestingly, the pain of the bee is more severe and often life threatening to the bumblebee. Really, the bumblebee doesn't want to get mad. It wants to be left alone to work. It doesn't want to be interfered with. It wants a good supply of flowers and time. To be busy. To make honey.

I feel like I am gleaning nectar from many sources in my bloglines account. I travel many miles every day to Sweden, Denmark, Australia, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, and Atlanta GA and make the return trip to my classroom to make honey.

Lesson plans are sweeter, learning is more fun, the classroom is more enriching because of my trips to gather nectar from around the world. I want to tell other bumblebees. People who aren't afraid to change. People who want to get the job done. People who want to make life a little sweeter for everyone who comes in their classroom.

I want to be given a good supply of technology, textbooks, and time. Time to be busy. Time to teach.

But I'm a bumblebee, I overcome the odds and use older computers and make no excuses as I strive to produce excellence in my classrooms. It is the sweetest profession in the world. Nothing compares.

We need more bees. We need more beekeepers. We need less people afraid of beehives.

Listen to the Podcast of this post made on Odeo

I've been teaching my classes how to use Odeo so I used it to record this. I've also created a Cool Cat Teacher podcast channel for recordings of my favorite posts, so you can subscribe to that if you like to hear audio. There were a few skips, but I think it happened when my Norton Antivirus kicked in as I was recording! I'm sure I'll get better! (Learn to use Odeo.)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Jim Dornberg March 22, 2006 - 7:37 pm

Another BRILLIANT post! Teachers in Michigan have a lot in common with those you’ve observed in Georgia. Thanks again for your excellent, well-written blog. I enjoy it very much and have shared it with others.

Karyn Romeis March 23, 2006 - 9:54 am

Keep bumbling, Vicki. There are many of us out here thoroughly enjoying your honey!

Art B March 26, 2006 - 10:16 pm

I am a preservice teacher, and I found it very interesting to read about what some potential collegues are like. In addition to a career change to Teaching, I am also new to blogging, I like your perspective, and I hope I can follow your example and bring blogging into my classroom. Thanks for your insight.

Lorne Henkelman March 29, 2006 - 8:57 pm

Vicki, you wrote ‘…People who agree pliantly with everything from the top but do their own thing are usually safe.” when describing the bobbleheads. And you may very well be right, but that description might also fit those that operate on the premise that ‘it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission’. Sometimes when we want to try something new in the classroom, it is necessary to nod in agreement to the status quo and then just go ahead and do things the way we want to do them anyway, fully prepared of course to deal with the consequences at a later date. Often teachers that want to step outside the box are stifled by overly cautious rules, regulations and administration and so have to ‘do what they do’ and later, if necessary, ask forgiveness. More often than not, the asking part never becomes necessary.

Vicki A. Davis March 29, 2006 - 9:20 pm

Well put, Lorne.

mags729 May 23, 2008 - 4:18 pm

This is TOTALLY awesome. I can’t wait to use it. Thanks so much for sharing.

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