• Derek Stoppels

We Need More Type B Personalities in Education

I was driving into school this morning with a half-assed plan about what I wanted to do with my classes today. I was listening to the last half of a podcast called The Art Of Manliness by Brett McKay and his guest was James Nestor who wrote a book called Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art and I thought it was really interesting and something I wanted to learn more about. (I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read thanks to the #AoM podcast.) Then, when that podcast ended, my “downloads” rolled into a podcast called Punk Rock Classrooms with Josh Buckley and Mike Earnshaw. This episode was called “Planning Like a Punk” and in it they were talking about how punks don’t always have a cut and dry plan, but more of an outline and a direction.


I had to laugh to myself because the Punk Rock Classroom really had me thinking, teaching needs more Type B teachers. And that’s not to say we need fewer Type A teachers, cause that’s not what I think. But a solid crew (to use the Punk Rock Classroom’s term) needs a solid balance of Type A and Type B personalities. I’m a Type B personality, and I find my best DIY projects in school happen when I work with a Type A teacher. The product gives the students a TON of voice and choice (cliches, I know), and makes sure the circle pit keeps spinning. I dream of working in a school with equal parts Type A and B that fosters a safe environment where teachers can work together to move the students AND each other forward, making the education system more relevant and inspiring for our students, at every level. So this morning, I walked into the classroom and the idea hit me. The Art of Manliness podcast I finished listening to on the way in about breathing tied into my curriculum perfectly. I had to add a little structure that I learned how to do from collaborating with a Type A teacher.


The question I wanted to ask my students was “how does breathing affect the human circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems?” If we weren’t teaching during a global pandemic, that would have been all I asked my students, and I would have let them stumble through the answer. But because the timing and everything is all messed up these days, I added a little more structure as my Type A counterpart would have done and it sort of streamlined the activity. It was still a discovery activity, but they had a little more guidance than I normally would have given them...but I’m okay with it because some kids need the structure. And since I’m using my teaching practices during this pandemic as an opportunity to try new things, it was a really positive and meaningful experience for me and for the students. We had an awesome class discussion and they came up with some pretty awesome ideas, observations and connections to their breath and their systems.


One student, at the back of the class, put her hand up and asked: “So from what we’re talking about here, there seems to be two different types of breathing, deep breathing and the breathing that we do normally. If there are so many benefits to deep breathing, why don’t we do it all the time?”


My answer: YES!


We talked about some psychological benefits to breathing and some physiological benefits to breathing, and then we talked about how some of the psychological effects of breathing can manifest itself in physiological ways. And they started making some connections between their breath and their systems. It was awesome. There was “flow” in our classroom! All it took was a DIY mindset, some passion and some unity (as the Punk Rock Classroom promotes) and I saw learning happen! #WhatLearningLooksLike. Or the way my friend Derek Brez put it: “Those are the best lessons, driven by passion and fuelled by insanity!” It was pretty cool how it all came together.


I also need to thank @DerekBrez for the inspiration to ask a Big Question at the beginning of class that is light hearted, but still involves a thought process to get the wheels turning in the morning.


Today’s question: Is cereal soup?


This sparked a heated discussion, which remained cordial, but barely. Turns out, 16 year olds have some pretty strong opinions about this, but what a great way to start the day!


Check out @PunkClassrooms, @Cam_is_Learning, #WhatLearningLooksLike, @DerekBrez and @artofmanliness on Twitter...you won't regret it!!!

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