Hack The Classroom ISTE 2019 | Toney Jackson
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Hack The Classroom ISTE 2019 | Toney Jackson


– Now our last presenter
is an amazing change-maker. He’s been with us before at
other Hack the Classroom events. He’s a fourth grade teacher
in Hackensack, New Jersey. He’s also an amazing poet, and he’s gonna bring us together by showing us the connection between social and emotional learning and how you as educators can
make a difference in lives. Take it away Toney. – This work is about the most challenging and rewarding work you’ll find. It’s the work of changing the world. Now remember if you
wanna change the world, love your students. If your students make
it hard to love them, love harder than you’d normally
allow yourself to love. Your heart is mostly made of muscle, so work it out. Your students are completely filled with potential they may
never have learned about, so never miss an
opportunity to remind them or help them find it. That is what this work is about, and I know, many are focused on grades and test scores and data points too which is funny, because in searching for factors
in making success happen, happiness is exactly what the
research and data points to. It’s not that happiness is the goal. That’s actually well-being. Still what better source of motivation than as much happiness as we can pour out into their well-being, filled be a bottomless pit of chances. Some students wear their
issues on their faces. Some students hide their
hearts in their throats or their sleeves. Some students act out because they’ve never
felt what a safe space is, and instead of embracing the change, they fear falling apart
in front of others, so they’d rather leave. Some students will push you
away until you stay away and prove that they were right all along, and some of those same students
are praying they’re wrong. What I’m saying is, the work is digging
down into the core first because anything that will
bubble up to the surface starts there, and we won’t make it through
the crust or the mantle if we don’t handle with care. If we don’t care, what’s the purpose. Every one of us is a world unto ourselves and a part of this world we inhabit. This is world-changing work molding minds, so let’s change the mindset
that we go to work with. This work is about engaging and empowering every
learner we are there for and creating a culture and environment where everyone feels valued and cared for. The imprint you leave
is not just a footprint, it’s a fossil, and it can be washed away early on if we don’t bury it
under layers of support for what they may not
yet know is possible. Remember, before they are a student, they’re a person. Before you’re a teacher, you’re a person. And we’ve got that in common, so let’s make that human connection first, then watch how much
better the system works when we see their identity
and we see their worth. This is the work. The work is spending enough
time making connections so that when it’s time to point out a student’s
mistakes and corrections, they’re able to know that it
comes from a place of respect and that this is the expectation
without an exception. For me, the most important time
I’ve spent with my students has been in conversation, often in circles on the floor, allowing them a minute’s reprieve, a minute to breathe, a few minutes to just be, to belong, away from the judgment of right or wrong where we don’t demonize feelings. We recognize them. We sympathize. We empathize. We analyze. We humanize. We do the work of building
bonds and bridges between us to provide a safe passage for our words and thoughts and feelings so that they know that support is there when they need it. Without support, there is no foundation. We need to build up the structure before we can place in the information, help them develop resilience so that whatever obstacles arise will not blind their
eyes to their brilliance, teach them self-care and
then practice that too because to take care of them best, you best take care of you. You matter. Teach them that too ’cause that’s what this work is about. (inspiring musical swell)

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