This past year, my good friend Amy Illingworth, politely challenged me to expand my learning zone. I gladly accepted the challenge and started tweeting and today, completed my first blog. Having a twitter account was a pleasant surprise that allowed me to have access to instant professional development each day. It also allowed me to connect easily with other like-minded people. However, creating a blog represented a challenge. I consider myself a reflective practitioner, but blogging seemed like it would take a lot of time and to be honest, while I consider myself a little more interesting than a cat video, I wondered, Who would want to read what I post (other than Amy Illingworth)? After completing my first blog, I found that the process really was about my own learning. A blog allowed me to think about my own growth as an educator and what I still needed to learn or experience to become my next best self. We sometimes forget to just stay still and think.
So now, I humbly offer you my first blog. Many people know this about me … I have a weakness for metaphor and music. SO, I combined both loves. As a young child, I was obsessed with mixtapes. I would get my radio out, pop a cassette in and wait all day to record all of my favorite songs. There was an art form in putting together the music. I wanted to capture music that represented a tiny slice of my life. I hear Beat It by Michael Jackson and I think about my first crush. I hear King of Rock by Run-DMC and I think about how much rap music changed the music scene forever. I hear Led Zeppelin and I think about learning to play Stairway to Heaven on my first guitar (SIDENOTE: I keep that guitar in my office as a way to connect with students). Music was so powerful to me. I would sit around all day with friends and try to memorize lyrics. Or in some cases, choreograph awful dance routines.
I see teaching a lot like a mixtape. We are consistently creating soundtracks for our students about different themes, lessons or ideas. We know that music has a special power to ignite memories and connections. Well, I think great educators create powerful learning experiences that are very much like those mixtapes. Students will not only learn from those powerful experiences, but those experiences will help create more opportunities for success in future endeavors. My blog is intended to be a mixtape for educators. If you choose to follow along for the next year, you will see each month has a song, theme and some insights. The first track is about potential. We all have the key to unlocking students’ potential and dreams. It comes down to your belief system in the student and doing everything possible for them to meet your expectations. What an awesome responsibility. You are ready for it. So, let the soundtrack of your teaching career be songs of joy, learning, love and growth.
And by the way, my mixtapes were rad.
or follow me on Twitter @RicardoCooke1
Dr. Ricardo Cooke is currently an assistant principal with National City Middle School. He has a passion for teaching, learning and leading. In his spare time, he teaches, reads and makes mixtapes. He has been in the education field for twenty years. He is a proud Mar Vista Middle and Chula Vista alum as well as a former teacher at Bonita Vista High School.