Hope King from Ron Clark Academy has an inspiring message for teachers about using your creativity to engage students. She talks about how every teacher can make their classroom more exciting and why it is necessary.
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Hope King: How to Engage Your Students and Find Your Creative Breakthrough
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e306
Date: May 7, 2018
Vicki: Happy Motivational Monday! So last week we talked to Wade King, one of the co-authors of The Wild Card: Seven Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough.
Today we’re talking to Hope King @hopekingteach, the other half of the equation, who is also at Ron Clark Academy and friends with my friend, Junior Bernadin, who has also been on this show.
- Wade King: Find Your Classroom Creativity Wildcard
- Junior Bernadin: How the African Step Dance Ignited Kids at Ron Clark Academy
Now, Hope, as we talk about creativity and having a breakthrough in our classroom. You know, why do we need to have a breakthrough in our creativity?
Hope: So I really feel like as educators we have to focus on, in schools all across America, making school the place TO be, and not the place that kids feel like they HAVE to be.
Oh my gosh, I just have to survive this day!
One thing that I ask educators to reflect on: I say, think about the last time that you were in a professional development setting.
So to educators I will ask this question, “Raise your hand if you’ve been recently, or in the past, to a tedious profession development that you didn’t want to go to.”
Of course, I’ll always have hands. All over the room everybody raising their hands.
I will say, “You know, it’s one of those PDs, where in the first couple of minutes you were like, “Oh my gosh, I just have to survive this day! I just have to get through it!”
We’re thinking about everything else that we need to do…
We are on our cell phones, scrolling through social media…
And so I ask teachers to take themselves to one of those moments, and I’ll say, “What percentage, in that moment, where you don’t even want to be in that environment, if you’re just merely surviving to get through the day, what percentage do you think you are actually investing into learning something?”
And a lot of times, they’ll say, “Maybe five percent.” I have a lot of people who just shout and say, “Zero percent!”
Hope: That is kind of where I am at, too. I do not want to be there and I am not interested or engaged, I’m not giving a high percentage.
I do not want to be there. I’m not giving a high percentage.
Sometimes I will stick with ten or whatever the number is. I’ll say, “Let’s do what education does best and translate that. That’s a ten percent on a test score or you know that into the tenth percentile.”
Then I’ll say, “Think about a moment or someplace you really wanted to go and it’s a place you could not wait to go. You were anxiously anticipating it. You were excited about it. Also think about the percentage you give to a situation like that where you are in that moment. You can’t take your eyes off the speaker. You are hanging on every single word that they say. What percentage do you give then?”
And they will say “Oh! A hundred! Or a hundred and ten!”
And I will say “Exactly!
This is the same exact situation for our students. In classrooms across the world and in America, we see kids just sitting there, and they have that look of survival. Because they are just trying to survive the day. They’re just trying to get through the day.”
When our kids are in classrooms like that, they are getting ten percent, twenty-five percent just like those teachers said.
But if we create our classrooms to be a place where kids WANT to be every day, where they are hanging on our every single word, where they can’t wait to walk through our door, where at home they’re wondering “What is my teacher is going to do tomorrow, or what am I going to learn?”
What is my teacher is going to do tomorrow?
Then THAT’s when they are going to come in and give us that one hundred percent of their effort. That is what is going to start seeing stop dragging their heads when they are walking through the doors and instead start running into schools just being so excited to be there!
I feel like that’s when the magic of academics truly happen.
Vicki: So we want engagement. We know we want that. But where do we start? Because it seems like everybody–
Vicki: Here is the thing. Teachers want… I want my students to be engaged. I don’t know what anybody else wants. I want them to be excited. Let’s just say we all want it. Where do we go?
Hope: A lot of the times we will say this — I will tell my students this. It’s easy for people to say they want it, or to look at somebody else who is doing it and say we would love to do that.
But to be honest with you, this is not something that is super easy. It’s something that takes sacrifice. Just like any great thing in life.
And a lot of times the sacrifice is this for educators.
It’s letting go of the idea of doing it perfectly and letting go of their pride and saying “You know what? I am going to do what I preach to my kids. I’m going to have that growth mindset. I’m going to lay it all on the line. I am going to try something different. I’m going to try something that I’m not comfortable with. I am just going to do it, and if I fail, I fail. And that is OK.”
As teachers we are so afraid of failure — yet we try to teach our kids to be resilient and that area. We are afraid of failing ourselves.
I think a lot of that stems down and boils down to social media, too.
As teachers, we are afraid of failing, and social media contributes to that.
I think social media is one of the bst things to ever happen to education, and at the same time some of the worst.
Because we scroll through Instagram. We scroll through Facebook. We scroll through Pinterest. We sit there and compare ourselves to the other teachers who have been — maybe doing this for years and years. We compare our starting point to someone else’s ending point.
Hope: And so we say, “I’m just not going to try. Because no way I will ever do it like this person or that person.”
You know what? At the end of the day, we all have to start somewhere.
One of my big things that I do. A lot of people know this about me if they follow me on social media, is room transforming. I take my room, and I transform it into a different place.
I transform my room into a different place.
Currently, I have room set up as NASCAR. It’s one of the things I love to do. Right now, my room has AstroTurf on the floor, it has black plastic to look like the raceway, and I’ve got cones and tires. But I didn’t start like that.
My very first room transformation was an idea I got from Kim Bearden.
- Listen to Kim Bearden: How do You Mend a Broken Teacher?
I told the kids that a leprechaun came. It was around St. Patrick’s Day, and I turned all of our punctuation green. I layed out green tablecloths, and I had green pasta. And the students used that pasta to punctuate their sentences.
But guess what? Although it wasn’t elaborate, although it wasn’t something that was big kind and like I do now, the kids were just as excited about that room transformation as they are the current ones that I do.
Why? Because I did something different.
I shifted gears, I did something unexpected, and when we create those unexpected moments for our kids, that is when they start wondering, “Oh my goodness, my teacher is so crazy! What is my teacher going to do tomorrow?”
I did something different.
I think it’s just about starting somewhere and being willing to say, “If I fail, I fail, that’s perfectly fine.”
Vicki: When you are talking about the wild card and creative breakthrough, are you talking about creative in delivery, or just being creative about how your whole classroom operates and how you teach things?
Hope: You know, really in The Wild Card, what we focused on… We said that sometimes, we get so bogged down in what we HAVE to teach, and to be real honest with you, sometimes we do not even like what we have to teach as educators. Sometimes, it’s a very common thing.
But we say, even if you are not passionate about what you have to teach, be passionate about the way in which you teach it. The way that you become passionate about how you teach it is for you to find a way that you enjoy teaching it.
You think back to a lot of things I have heard of teachers say in their classrooms like they will say to their kids – “Alright, y’all it’s writing time… And you know, I do not even like writing, but you know it something that we have to do in life, so we have to get through it.”
Hope: You know? I am sure you have heard it too.
And it is one of those things where I cringing, because I think, “Now you’ve giving I these kids every reason to make excuses for why they don’t want to write and why they don’t like writing.”
And I say about education? What we’ve put into selling it? That’s what our kids are going to put into buying it, even if it’s a fake-it-until-you-make it mentality.
You act like writing is the best thing ever, and you find a way that excites you to teach writing. That passion that exudes from that lesson that you are excited about will be the passion those kids are going to inherit with writing.
And so… I think it really is all about delivery.
It really is all about delivery.
You know, say, at (our school) RCA, we use a lot of songs. But if all I have used is a song to teach, that’s going to become boring.
If all I ever use is a room transformation to teach, that’s going to become boring.
Just like if all I ever use is a game, it is going to become boring.
Or worksheets – guess what?
It is going to become boring because it’s expected.
It’s the norm, it’s what kids know is going to happen every single day.
I want to shake that up and say, “I know my standards that I teach. Now, how many different ways can I deliver that information?
I know there are not a lot of things we can choose in education but the way we deliver something. WE get to choose.
I have even been in schools where I’ve had scripted curriculums. I’ve even been strapped so tightly where they hand me a notebook and say, “Here, teach this, read this, exactly word for word.”
But even if we are put in that situation and all we have is ourselves that we can choose, we can choose to read those lines with passion, enthusiasm, excitement.
I relate it to Hollywood. The actors and actresses go in to audition and they are all given the same lines. The actor or actress that gets the role is the actor or actress that reads the lines the best.
I relate it to Hollywood.
So even if that is the only choice that I have is how I am going to read those lines that day, how I am going to deliver the scripted curriculum, I’m going to do it with so much joy, so much enthusiasm, so much passion, because those things right there alone can revolutionize your whole classroom environment.
Vicki: On thing that I think is real important. I actually read a Harvard researcher who said this in a report, that you can act your way into feeling, but you cannot feel your way into acting.
Vicki: Isn’t that awesome?
Every year I do a focus group with my students at the end of the year – this is our least favorite – my goal this year is to have the kids say what was their MOST favorite.
I remember one time they said PSAT prep, so I did this big zombie theme, and I said we’d be test zombies – all kinds of cool stuff, like dress as a zombie.
I hid from teachers because I was embarrassed. But the kids at the end of the year said, “That was the best lesson!” because I completely blew their minds. They were shocked and didn’t even know what to think.
I know that it’s hard to get out of the box, and do that because I always wore suits and scarves every day to school. It’s not like me to get put on floor-length hair and look like a zombie, but I just do believe in what you are saying.
We do have bring it. We have to get kids excited!
Hope: Yes, it is a different world these days.
The competition we have out there with technology and all of these things that are happening. It’s a fast-paced world and I feel like as education, we’ve got to keep up!
As teachers, we’ve got to keep up, because we are selling them the thing that is going to carry them in the future, that is going to carry them on into forever.
I feel like sometimes if we get stuck in what education used to be and what it should have been back then, I feel like we’re missing out on a lot of opportunities to really give kids every opportunity to be successful.
At the end of the day, what we are trying to do? Create lifelong learners.
Well, if kids don’t have a love and a passion for learning, I feel like that falls back on me, the teacher, that is my responsibility.
So to do that? I’m like you, I’ll put on floor-length hair, I’ll stand on my head, I’ll do whatever I have to do to get them to understand something.
I’ll do whatever I have to do to get them to understand something.
That’s what I love so much about my job. We really get to set these kids on fire for learning. That is something that is standards and assessments will never create.
Standards and assessments will never be the reason kids come running into our door every single day. As a matter of fact, it’s the thing that keeps them running OUT of our doors, and teachers too, running out of this profession.
All we do is place our focus on those standards and assessments, we’re setting ourselves up for misery, which in turn sets our kids up for misery.
But if we find a creative way to teach those and really amp up those standards, then kids are coming in every day and they want to be in your room, and they’re giving one hundred percent.
It’s impossible for them to not be academically successful and really master those things that we are trying to teach them.
So the book is The Wild Card: Seven Seven Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough by Hope and Wade King.
Check it out, and get so excited!
Hope, you were named well, because Hope King is a great name for you because Hope is King.
We want kids to have hope. We want them to know that do when they go to school, they are going to learn something exciting, be excited and be engaged and love to learn, and that’s what we want!
So get out there, remarkable educators and let’s have a creative breakthrough!
Hope: Awesome! Thank you so much for having me! I’ve enjoyed talking to you.
Contact us about the show: https://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford [email protected]
Bio as submitted
Hope King is an award-winning educator, co-author of the best seller The Wild Card 7 steps to an educators creative breakthrough, blogger, compulsive crafter.
She has a special interest in empowering other teachers, which inspired her to co-found the highly acclaimed Get Your Teach On conference. Hope also distributes original lesson plans and curriculum materials through her blog, Elementary Shenanigans, and the “Teachers Pay Teachers” website. She currently teaches reading, language arts and Science to middle-schoolers at the famed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, and her innovative methods for driving student engagement there have been showcased. Hope is a graduate of Pendleton High School and earned her undergraduate degree from Anderson University and was a member of the cross country and track teams. She received her masters from Clemson University. She was recipient of the Debra Peebles Golden Deeds Excellence in Teaching Award in Anderson school district 4.
|Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.|
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