We can unleash our creativity as teachers if we want to inspire our students. Co-author of Wildcard, Wade King, shares how.
The Wild Card: Find Your Creativity
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e301
Date: April 30, 2018
Vicki: I am so excited about this two-part series for Motivational Monday!
Not too long ago I was on Amazon looking at books like I do and I came across this awesome book that I had to immediately order. It’s called The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough, and I saw that Wade and Hope King wrote the book.
And so of course I got Dr. Lisa Durff, my wonderful research assistant to start looking, and she said, “You know what? Wade and Hope work with your friend Junior Bernadin who is at Ron Clark Academy!”
So, Wade, you have come on the show, and we are going to help motivate teachers to get excited about creativity in our classrooms.
Where do we start?
Wade: Yes! So excited, so excited! Thank you so much for having me on this. It is one of those where we are just pumped to share how we use creativity in the classroom for engagement.
So I love to start with, “What is your WHY? So focusing on — and reflecting on — WHY you got into teaching in the first place as a teacher.
What is your WHY?
A lot of us, as educators, we got into education for a particular reason and purpose but as you go through year after year after year, you kind of forget about why you became an educator in the first place.
So reflecting on that is absolutely essential to what you do in your classroom. You cannot be creative if you do not know why you want to be creative and who you’re doing it for.
Vicki: So important. Isn’t it though, easy when… I mean everybody can fall into a rut, right?
Wade: Absolutely, absolutely.
I always, when I talk to educators, I always say, “It is easy to remember your WHY you got into education when it’s the beginning of the school year because you’re coming off the summer break and you’ve been looking on Pinterest or on Instagram, getting all these great ideas.
But then February comes…
Wade: … and then March comes, and you get so bogged down.
So kind of reminding yourself of that and finding people who hold accountable to that. We all have a different reason of why we got into education, a different purpose.
Remind yourself of your WHY in February and March
I like to tell teachers, “Yes, it is great that you love kids, but that’s not enough. Why do you love kids? Why do we do? Why do we wake up when it’s dark outside and some of us actually go home when it’s dark outside. So why do we put ourselves through that?”
Well, it’s for our kids, but what do our kids need?
And so focusing on that — yes, you definitely get burnt out. But it definitely helps you when you think about, “Okay, what am I doing this for? Really, really… what exactly is my reasoning for why I want to push myself to the limits and create an engaging environment for my students?”
Vicki: OK. So we understand our why. We also know why I am going to go all this effort to make an exciting classroom, because that’s also a why. Some people phone it in, but we don’t phone it in because we want to be remarkable.
So, what’s next? How can we get motivated to pull that creativity into our classroom after we know our why?
Wade: Right, I love this question. Because a lot of people put creativity in a certain box — this is what has to look like.
My wife Hope and I — we obviously teach together here at the Ron Clark Academy. We have taught together even in public school. But her creative aspect is totally different than mine is.
When we started to look and see the monotony, kind of, in our classroom… We started to reflect… number one, on our interest. So what makes us excited?
And then we started to look at the kids. What are they interested in?
Build off of the students’ interests as well as your own
For example, when I taught fifth grade math back in Pendleton, South Carolina, my girls loved Hannah Montana. Absolutely adored Hannah Montana. And so what I would do is I would literally go to Hope’s mother’s house, sit in the recliner, and watch “Hannah Montana,” just so I could pull into those interests of my students.
So why did I do that? Well, I did that because as my students coming to the class, they were still giving me effort, but I could see it on their faces that it was just another day.
And that was the start of really, really honing in on creativity. I to play music in my classroom I love to use debate. Hope, she is very crafty. Her room looks like Hobby Lobby threw up all over the place.
Wade: (laughs) and that’s just because she loves hands-on lessons. Loves crafting. That is her creative aspect. And throughout the years, she’s really focused on that.
There was a study done. I read in this sports magazine article over a decade ago, and they were talking about how much productivity you can have in your profession if you incorporate your interests.
Wade: They’re not even talking about talents.
If you think about that, if you are interested about something, you are going to be excited about doing it.
And so we have to think about that — yes, we can be selfish a little bit if we’re teachers. We’ve got to think about that for ourselves. What are you interested in as a teacher? How do you incorporate that into the classroom?
And the same goes for our kids. If they’re not interested, they are not engaged, and they really aren’t going to give you their best effort. And so focusing on that and integrating those interests in your classroom — that is the beginning of understanding who you actually are and that reflective process of obtaining that creative breakthrough.
Vicki: And we want them to be interested, don’t we?
Wade: Absolutely. Oh my goodness, you have to.
You have to make learning relevant. If learning is not relevant for your students, no matter what it is, they are not going to be excited about it.
“But I’m not an actor… I’m not a performer…”
That is just — people just say that we are not actors, and we are not this, and we are not that, but at the end of the day you are. That is your stage, every single day, to get your kids pumped up and excited about what you’re going present to them.
Vicki: You know, why not? It is so exciting when you get kids engaged! It’s so exciting when you get excited, and they get excited. I mean, it’s almost like if you’re an adrenaline junkie, teaching is the perfect profession for you because you can really have an adrenaline hit when you have an awesome class, can’t you?
Hope says it best, and we reflect on this a lot.
Like, if you are at a concert or something at front of the row giving it all you got, just hoping that that performer looks at you and gives you a wink or a high-five — that’s how we should want our kids to be in the classroom, too.
A wink from the performer can go a long way
When the performer sees that, the performer is going to get more amped up, and more excited. So the more you pour into your kids, the more excited you are about learning, the more you share information with enthusiasm, the more you are going to be excited about it because you are going to feed off back and forth from each other.
So being able to do that can definitely liven up your classroom to help ignite that creative aspect.
Vicki: So Wade, give us a 30-second pep talk to motivate us to really willing to bring creativity and bring own interest to our classroom.
Wade’s 30-second pep talk
Wade: You all, we wake up when it’s dark outside. We go home when it is dark outside.
A lot of us as educators, we spend more time consciously inside of our classrooms during the school week.
We have got to be excited about walking into our classrooms, just as our kids are excited about walking into our classrooms.
We do a fantastic lesson. Now, do fantastic lessons have to cost us a lot of money? Or a lot of effort? No! Just be different!
If all you do is play music every single day in the classroom, even that gets old.
You all, I am not a technology person, but if I were to use technology tomorrow to do something as simple as quizzes? Oh my gosh, my kids would be blown away!
We have got to start thinking differently to ignite that passion because at the end of the day we have human beings in our classroom who potentially will change the world one day.
Vicki: I love it.
So educators, creativity is definitely a part of being remarkable. Not only our creativity, but the true creativity of our students, and not just here’s a list of twenty things — you pick one. We’re talking about truly letting them create and invent and do remarkable things.
So the book is The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough by Wade and Hope King.
Check out next Monday. We will be talking to Hope!
Contact us about the show: https://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford [email protected]
Bio as submitted
Wade King serves as the director of curriculum and instruction at the famed Ron Clark Academy, where he also teaches social studies and current events, co-author of the best seller The Wild Card 7 steps to an educators creative breakthrough, and featured presenter and director of the Get Your Teach On Conference.
His personal passion is using music and debate to drive engagement in the classroom—over 20,000 visiting educators who’ve observed his teaching methods remember Wade as the teacher with the electric guitar and drum set.
Prior to teaching at RCA, Wade was recognized in Anderson School district four as a District Choice Teacher, Pendleton Elementary Teacher of the Year, as well as Region Coach of the Year. Wade is a graduate of T.L. Hanna high school and earned both his undergraduate and masters degrees from Anderson University where he also wrestled for the Trojans.
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