This Year's Teacher Toolkit

life Sep 15, 2020

My family loves toolkits.

Toolkits for emotions, toolkits for sports, toolkits for marriage, toolkits for friendships, literal toolkits for plumbing.

When one of us pulls through some crisis moment, we’re all inclined to ask, “that was awesome; what tool did you use?” Toolkits are the practical answer to moving through life prepared. The environment can change suddenly. And it’s always good to have a pack of tools to prepare for the unknown.

And speaking of the unknown, 2020 will likely be a year of uncertainties. Or, at the very least, a year that requires a high degree of adaptability.

With that said, here’s my personal toolkit recommendation for teachers and administrators.

Headspace (or the Equivalent)

Headspace is a meditation app. I used to be quite skeptical of such apps (and meditation in general). Yet over the years, I’ve come to recognize that my mind tends to run highly-piggly at the most inconvenient times (read: nearly all the time). Meditation apps help tame the monkey mind. They really do work (to varying degrees). If ever there was a year to start meditating, the coronavirus times are it.

A Solid Go To Comic

I’m likely showing my Gen X credentials here. Still, I think having a comic strip is a necessary tool for cracking some humor into the classroom. Some of my favorite (that kids really still relate to) are:

  • Frazz (which features a janitor at an elementary school - everyone can relate)
  • Calvin and Hobbs
  • Zits
  • The Farside (which recently started up again)
  • XKCD for the geeks
Why not dig out the old instrument?

A Pour Over

Is there anything sweeter the wonderful aroma of poured-over brewed coffee to counteract the occasional funk of middle school students with too much deodorant? No. No, there isn’t. Plus, an energy boost!

Why Don’t Kids Like School

By Dan Willingham. This is one of those teaching bibles that, I believe, every teacher should read. It focuses on cognitive science (how the brain works) and is exceptionally practical with classroom suggestions.

Design for How People Learn

By Julie Dirksen. Many of the pedagogical frameworks we educators learned to use in the classroom translate into the online learning environment. Dirksen’s book is a good (and easy to consume) guide to developing online learning experiences.

YouTube Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Etc

Tunes get us all through the day (unless you like silence, some folk are wired that way…and those folks who picked teaching as a profession find other ways to cope). Plus, there’s a bit of a “Pied Piper” effect you can leverage with students. Never underestimate the power of Samba music leading students to epiphanies in  US Government.

How to Stay Alive in the Woods

A classic. And always good to have just in case we all need to head to the hills.

A Garden

At school. At home. Somewhere. Sometimes you need to hang out with a tangible metaphor.

Blanton’s Bourbon

At the end of a long day, we occasionally need to say a toast to the morrow.

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