Never Take Great Teaching For Granted
Remember when we were kids and two of our favorite shows would surprise us with a crossover episode? You know the one.
Josie and the Pussycats help the gang from Scooby Doo solve a mystery.
Those silly kids from Beverly Hills 90210 found themselves caught up in the tempestuous lives of Melrose Place tenants.
Or when Family Guy and The Simpsons squared off in the courtroom over copyright laws.
We love when our favorite shows, which often take place in the same “universe,” team up for an episode because we feel like we’re in on something, like we’re part of something.
In November 2016, Seattle megaband, Temple of the Dog, played its only tour together: eight shows in five cities, beginning in Philadelphia. Combining members of grunge icons Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, the group recorded only one album, in 1991, in memory of their mutual friend, Andy Wood, the frontman for an earlier Seattle band, Mother Love Bone. Wood died of a heroin overdose in 1990, the ominous harbinger to the birth of what is now Pearl Jam.
But this crossover experience is just getting started.
The show was transcendent. Equal parts an escape from the present and a return to the past, the band’s frontman, Chris Cornell, who also fronted Seattle’s Soundgarden, was on fire. Though I had just seen Cornell live a couple years back as part of a solo tour, this was something different; he was something different. He evoked his friend Wood, he gave us chills, and he reminded us all what it was like to be a teenager in the 1990s.
Six months later Cornell hanged himself after a show in Detroit.
When I reflect on what had to go right for me to be a part of that crossover experience, it is always sobered by what had to go wrong for Cornell to commit suicide months later.
A month earlier during his speech in honor of Pearl Jam’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, David Letterman noted, “Never take the opportunity for live music for granted.” I didn’t miss my chance to see Cornell live, but if I had, I would never have gotten a chance to see him again.
In education, we get to see “live music” every day. Sometimes we are the conductor, sometimes we are the rhythm guitarist, and sometimes we are in the cheap seats just happy to be in the room.
We cannot take our role in the lives of our kids for granted. Furthermore, we cannot take our role in each other’s lives for granted.
Teachers: Go see colleagues teach. Co-teach with them. Guest teach for them. Get off campus and see other teachers work. Investigate powerful PLNs on Twitter like #4OCFpln, #ProDriven, or “Like a Pirate” groups like #tlap or #LEADLAP.
Leaders: Provide opportunities for your teachers to form their own crossover experiences. Offer to teach a lesson with or for them. Celebrate your teachers when they form megabands. Find more ways to say yes than to say no.
Ultimately, crossover experiences allow each other and our kids to see the same thing from a different perspective.
As I sat in the Tower Theater watching some of my favorite musicians on that November night, I knew all the words to all the songs, but they were somehow different, somehow better.
As our students sit in their classrooms and participate in a read aloud led by someone other than the lead teacher, they know what to expect and how to engage, but it is somehow different.
It may even be better.