The comments of my last post have turned into something of a boy's club, with Stephen and Todd tossing out some anecdotal material that did me right, especially here at the end of an eighteen-hour teach-and-plan-a-thon. Obliged, fellas.
Schreiber Scheibner had something useful:
At almost 40, I’ve lost some of that generational link with my kids, but it’s been replaced by the wisdom I’ve gained in being able to connect with them in other ways, too. It’s definitely a trade-off, but one that inevitably happens.
I can't help but want to have it both ways. Is it possible to stave off that inevitability?
There's no way it'd be easy — teaching at age 40, coaxing a comfortable, peer relationship out of a culture that, in a lot of ways, defines itself in opposition to us. That relationship has been a boon to my instruction this year, though, so I have to at least ask: has anyone who's been in the game that long seen any success here? Is it even worth pursuing?
As a reactive step towards this end, I keep Urban Dictionary on retainer and toss in my class' befuddling slang. Keeping up with the shifting vernacular (I swear "cold" made the leap from pejorative to complimentary in less than a year) diminishes that gap somewhat, but it's only an ex post facto attempt to keep up.
Five for the Weekend is my most proactive attempt to "get down" with the culture I serve. (Please take the scare quotes ironically, please please please.)
An irregular feature in my classroom, I'll solicit five singles from each class, listen to them over the weekend, and then bring back a) a discrete scoring
1 = listened to it more than once
0 = listened to it once but never again
-1 = couldn't finish the track;
and b) a brief but formal critique of the selection.Since I can't leave math alone, I also keep the records running.
The higher your ranking, the more inclined I'll be to select your hand out of the dozen-or-so waving around. It's been great to find out my kids aren't just into the usual thug-aggrandizing garbage.
They dig the feature. Harshing some of their tastes only makes them more rabid to recommend. It's minimal investment on their end and their ROI is a teacher who's taking them and their tastes seriously. Five for the Weekend has helped me get down, which has played a part, I'm positive, in keeping motivation high and class management easy.
My portfolio is diverse but I've got heavy holdings in the youth market. Is this investment strategy sustainable over a career?