You can’t stop the beat

There has been so much going on at YIS that I haven’t had a clue where to start blogging. Beyond Laptops conference? Digital Citizenship Week? Moving into the instructor role of COETAIL? * There have been so many sincere, intense conversations about educational technology going on and I haven’t known how I can add to it. ** It’s an embarrassment of riches, but I’ve been stuck.

Then I saw this today:

YIS Can’t Stop the Beat from YIS Academics on Vimeo.

On Friday, I saw the amazing Asako run around school cajoling everyone to dance for a video for elementary sports day. Everyone had a simple eight beats to dance. And  everyone danced***. The kids. The Head of School. The teachers. The parents. The security staff. The Head of Academics. The secretaries. More kids. It was just so much fun to watch people take a couple of minutes and do a little dance. And then this video is so joyous. It has nothing to do with curriculum or learning objectives, but it made me remember why I love being in schools. The fact this video exists makes YIS a better place to be. And schools should always be this fun. For the kids, yes. But for us adults too.

I love a good fight about educational policy****. I get really geekily excited unit planning. I want to keep learning everything I can about new pedagogy and new ways of teaching. I am passionate about implementing thoughtful curriculum. And yes, I complain about marking and countdown days to vacation. But if this job ever stops being fun, I’m finding a new one.

There is a cliche that technology in education isn’t about the tool but about the learning. You choose what learning objective you have (storytelling, visual literacy, research skills, etc) and what content to teach (Industrial Revolution/Globalization/Silk Road) and then find the tool (social media/web2.0 tools/iMovie, etc)*****. I believe this. I am extremely thoughtful about how I integrate technology into my classroom and how I plan my assessments. Most of the time ******. Sometimes we just have fun. We play with a new tool that I just saw on Twitter. I try out a new teaching strategy because it sounds interesting. Sometimes we film a movie without a storyboard. We spend a little extra time on something because it’s fun and makes us laugh.  And it’s little things like these that makes a classroom a better place to be, for me and my students. And who knows where this can lead us?  Because what we do is important work, but we don’t always have to be so serious.


* There could also be a post about how working with Kim offers so many incredible opportunities. And how that leads to a lot of googledocs.

** I will blog about all those things. I’ve started about three separate posts, but I’m still struggling.

*** One of my favorite memories is getting into a heated debate with my roommate about some educational policy issue on the DC metro. Only in DC would people be used to very loud wonky policy talk by twenty-somethings on a weekend night.

****I will make the admission that I did not dance for the video when asked. I have danced as a William Hung backup dance, a Gwen Stefani Backup dancer, a Sean Paul backup dancer and my star-turn as Nelly Furtado in front of 2000 screaming students at Lee HS legendary pep rallys. Talk about fun. But this was before cell-phone cameras and I need a live audience.

***** If any non-tech or non-ed people are reading this, this is the idea that if you want to talk to your best friend, it doesn’t matter if you do it on a phone, on Skype, or Google Voice. The tool doesn’t matter. The talking is the only thing that matters

****** To any current or future employers/bosses, I really am a thoughtful educator. I promise. Please go read my other blog posts if you’re worried.

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
This entry was posted in COETAIL @YIS, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to You can’t stop the beat

  1. jabiz says:

    Thanks for the reminder that teaching is meant to be fun. Thanks for being part of the conversation. Thanks for being on the team. Thanks for leading the team. Thanks for the little ***footnotes. Thanks for calling me out on my _____. Thanks for refusing to dance. (But sharing the excitementof it)

    Basically, thanks.

    • Anytime! It’s funny how blocked I was when it came to blogging and just a little bit of whimsey got me writing. There’s a lesson in that somewhere. And I’ll call you out on your ___________ if you promise to call me out on mine 🙂

      And I do realize I went a little overboard with the ***footnotes.

  2. iontravis says:

    Hi Rebekah,
    Isn`t playing around with tech stuff and creating cool things brilliant!!! I think at times we are under too much pressure (usually self-induced) to find a tool and justify its use in the classroom. Sometimes its great just giving a camera to the kids, running it through iMovie and then just sitting back and having a laugh. We have had some great times this year – check out my parent blog for some sample Grade 3 YouTube vids. Particularly proud of the last one as it was just a spur of the moment point-and-shoot done on one of the kids iPhones! Great way to finish celebrating World Culture Day.
    Is actually seems I`ve become less thoughtful about what tools I use with my G3s. They’ve been exposed to so much now that they gravitate towards there own particular tool for movie-making, presenting, storytelling, animation etc… That{s cool isn’t it?

  3. So true! This is one of my many favorite things about YIS. Having worked in a school where fun was definitely frowned upon, and there certainly wasn’t time for anything that didn’t directly relate to demonstrate-able student learning outcomes, I am equally thrilled to be working in a place that not only appreciates the fun and friendly nature of schools, but actively promotes it. We are lucky.

    I know that the whole process has at times been uncertain and unclear and that ultimately I am responsible for that. Above all, I hope that in the future our professional relationship may become richer despite this current situation.

  4. Hi Rebekah, Here we are about to launch into course 5 and I know I had fully (and thankfully) disconnected from much of my thinking of last year and course 4 over the holidays. I am still fresh from the summer. I still have a tan. I still am getting a daily heavy dose of the swimming and play I built into my life while we were off. This post is a good reminder that that spirit is essential in keeping all the other good stuff we do in schools happening.

    This week I’ve spent a fair bit of time with Grade 6 and have loved the laughter and the playfulness they invoke. On Wednesday, I walked in to my PSHE class (loft – aka pitch dark with the curtains drawn) about 2min after the bell had rung and half of my class was already there waiting to jump out at and scare whomever it was that came through the door. It was me…I opened the door, brushed the curtain aside, they screamed, I jumped, it was authentically funny. I laughed with them and then we got on with work. This year I will (said as a pledge) keep that levity through until June. It makes learning and teaching so much easier and more productive. Thanks for this! – AC

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