Planning and Improv

Today in my class something pretty cool happened.

I was teaching the fundamental principles of the US Constitution. They way I teach it, there are six. I put my students into six groups. Each group was to create a poster that did three things. It was to 1) define or explain the principle, 2) create some sort of drawing that represents this principle, and 3) write a poem/song/rap/etc that expresses the idea of this principle. (Multiple learning styles in da house.)

Then each group would teach their concept to the others and we would hang these up around our classroom poster of the Constitution.

They got a little hung up on the drawing part, but with some prodding, they were all able to get that pretty quick.

I was more surprised that they got stuck on the poem/song/rap part. But they were lost. Not according to plan. So I improvised. I said, “Look, Mr. Teachbad will write a rap about the Constitution right now. If I can do it, you can do it.”

So I went over to my computer and started a rap about the Constitution. Then I put this up on the projector:

The Constitution
Is our best solution
For how to roll the govamint
I’m lovin’ it

It’s the law that’s highest
In this country that’s fly-est
It let’s us know
How this govamint should go
Put yo hands in the air and say
“HEY….HO!!!”

Can’t no city or no state powerz
Pass no lawz ‘gainst this constitution of ourz
I could sit and read it for hourz

That took me maybe 8 minutes. They loved it. It built rapport….clearly. And they got the point. I want a rap that tells me what I want you to know about federalism…or whatever. But I had to pull it out of my ass and I didn’t know if it would work. I don’t think I could plan for that and the spontaneity and looseness of it was fun. I think it was valuable. That’s my professional assessment.

But Lord…oh dear Lordy Lord…I can’t even imagine what would have happened if an administrator had walked in.

Well, yes I can. One of two things would have happened:

1) I would have just stopped cold and started reading the standard and objective to the class and pretended we weren’t doing that; (in which case I would have been criticized for appearing to be disorganized and blah, blah, blah) or

2) I would have continued doing what I was doing (in which case I would have been written up: “Mr. Teachbad spent 8 minutes of valuable instructional time composing a ‘rap’ which blah, blah, blah”).

There is a disconnect. I think this will go down as one of my favorite moments as a teacher. Yet I am confident I would be roundly condemned for it by my administration. These are the moments which sustain me…yet they must be stopped.

Planning and Improv…what do you think?

Mr. Teachbad

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12 Responses to Planning and Improv

  1. Me says:

    I like the McDonald’s reference “I’m Lovin’ It”!

    • mrteachbad says:

      No disrespect to Mickey-D’s, but that’s not what I had in mind. I was thinking Eminem and White America.

      How could I predict my words
      Would have an impact
      like this?
      I must’ve struck a chord
      With somebody up in the office
      Cause congress keeps telling me
      I ain’t causin’ nuthin’ but problems
      And now they’re sayin’ I’m in trouble
      With the government
      I’m lovin’ it
      I shoveled shit all my life
      And now I’m dumping it on
      White America

  2. Two Cents says:

    Hopefully, we all have these moments…you know…these moments when we kick ass for our students despite the system and maybe even sometimes despite ourselves. What you did was education rather than school–yo and foshizzle. Did it raise test scores? Did it reach a stated learning obective or goal? Was it a proper use of instructional time? The answer is YES, YES, YES…and then some. If students buy into school…because it’s cool…and a useful tool…if you ain’t no fool…then test scores rise. If the objective is effective…and respective…and other adjectives…then you reached it. If you’re in it…by the minute… and you begin it…to spin it…to win it…then it ain’t no sin if…fuck; I’m out of rhymes. The point is, sometimes we each kick ass. Thanks for sharing this. I’d write you up for exceeding expectations if I was your admin. Stop giving lameass teachers something to live up to. Whatever happened to building unwarented self esteem?

  3. Andy says:

    Hey Ho that is so 1995

  4. scinerd1 says:

    Well I did Bingo with calculating protons, electrons and neutrons in my classes yesterday. I’m sure someone might have thought it was very elementary, but they improved their mental math, their awareness of the Periodic Table, were quickly doing more problems than I could have ever had them doing on a worksheet, and were actually calling out elements and particles that they needed to win. They all agreed that it helped them. But no way I would have done it at CHEC. Too “childish” I’m sure.

    You did good Teachbad.

  5. Teachbro019er says:

    Per an administrator at my school bingo is akin to “training seals”.

    Teachbad – Don’t let anyone ever stop you from stuff like this. It keeps you sane and human and does an enormous amount for your classroom atmosphere and communication…..and hey, it’s not like the things you rapped weren’t educational.

  6. I feel like there must be a way to make a rap out of standards, content objectives, skill objectives, enduring understandings, essential questions, agendas, lesson plans, AND the Constitution. Maybe with a little more planning and protocol, you could use that with the admin.

  7. kal varnson says:

    Yes, I have pretty much entered the realm in which I think that anything an administrator could possibly view as “positive” must inherently be “negative.”

    I read this post & thought, “damn I must have been so drunk on life that I wrote this & then forgot about it.”

    When our kids win, the system loses.

    & it is quite obvious that when the system wins our kids get left way, way behind.

  8. saracita says:

    Love it! & I think criticisms of things like this nearly always come from people who have never been classroom teachers, or who have been so long ago that they’ve drowned all the practical, interactive experience in dry pedagogy. And I think the multiple learning styles sounds legit enough to write on a lesson plan for someone.
    You rock. (Or rap?) Keep up the TeachGood, Mr. TeachBad.

  9. Ms. Teacher X says:

    I am so glad I found this site. Teaching is a noble profession controlled by a confederacy of dunces…and teachers who “get it” are going to get fed up and need a release. Bless you, Mr. Teachbad. You rock.

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