While thinking historically about philosophy, education, and my experiences in a strange profession, I’m increasingly convinced that there are two types of educators: Coffee-driven or Cocktail-driven…
Coffee-driven educators tend to…
- Retool and tune their day proactively either the day before or the morning of their workday. They do this even though they’ve done much pre-planning. They know that reality doesn’t always fit the ideas and ideals expressed in such pre-planning.
- Lean toward introversion.
- Like depth in work, mastery, and discussions of subject matter. They want to teach others to enjoy and thrive through such deep work. They find that subject matter helps hold relationships in healthy orbits.
- Have discussions about knowledge that serve as a sort of caffeine for the soul, stimulating them so much that they might have trouble sleeping.
- Dread facing the post-it note and speed-dating gimmicks during meetings and inservices. They may retreat into a corner and attempt to complete productive work during such times. They may become a bit snarky in their comments while being coerced to participate in speed-dating-enhanced methods for a given discussion topic.
- Like to review resources that show due-diligence about educational theory and practice in order to check or lightly innovate what they know is already working in their classrooms.
- Have a historical sense of education that recognizes how bad ideas, theories, and practices have a predictable way of resurfacing with different names and at different times. They realize that real change is hard, slow, and knowledge-dependent.
- Realize how important nuts-and-bolts and maintenance issues are for real growth.
- Cringe when they hear their district has applied for grants that will involve superficial buzzwords, trendiness, photo ops, shallow conversations, wheel-reinvention, and historical amnesia related to educational theories and practices. Such grants will inadvertently involve more post-it notes and variations on speed dating gimmicks–all of which are part of the “buy-in” process.
Cocktail-driven educators tend to…
- Love pursuing and discussing anything new, shiny, and linked to grants.
- Lean toward extroversion.
- Make some of the most important decisions at alcohol-enhanced social gatherings with people who work in other fields and may be potential investors in “new” directions. Often, the notion of “start-ups” lurks behind the thinking of these potential investors.
- Construct their narratives about educational change as post-factory, post-industrial, post-fact-driven, and as post-college bound, leading to the “need” for brave and bold new directions.
- Love post-it notes and speed dating activities.
- Love three- and four-letter acronyms for the latest grant-based initiative.
- Find gentle ways to gaslight or just ignore coffee-driven educators who express concerns that the “new” direction is not only not that new but not supported by any significantly thought-out educational research (Confirmation bias, anyone?). They often like to mention how hard change is without asking what real change is.
- Dismiss concerns about nuts-and-bolts and maintenance issues while focusing on grand visions of the future.
- Make sure that they make the biggest and most important decisions behind closed doors with other cocktail-driven educators.
[Disclaimer: Coffee-driven educators aren’t opposed to alcohol; they would just like their fellow educators to sober up a little bit. A coffee-driven educator is more likely to partake of beverages as a celebration of hard work and thoughtful relationships developed over time. Nevertheless, a coffee-driven educator may be tempted to drink in order to deal with the effects of cocktail-driven educational decisions and practices.]
BONUS: Brant Hansen’s “The Working Man Song”