What KONY2012 Showed Me About My Teaching

Imagine it’s Thursday morning. Period 1, Year 10 English. It’s cold and rainy. I have to take Year 10 Sport, Period 3 so you’d think I’d be ready and raring, what with me in my gym gear and all, except I’d been awake till midnight marking books and woke up at 5am to finish off the last of the marking, so I’m not so ready and raring anymore. We’ve been studying narratives and had just finished a story on the Y2K bug and I was trying to launch into a cool story I had found on the moon landing conspiracy but my rocket just wasn’t launching.

During my late night marking session I checked my Twitter feed to see what was trending. I saw #stopkony and #makekonyfamous. I had a quick flick over to Facebook and saw that everyone was sharing this movie “KONY 2o12“. I made a mental note that I had to watch it but unfortunately it would have to wait until I had a bit more time up my sleeve. I’d been putting off this marking for three days.

The kids came bounding in at 8:30am. We got started on our work when one of them piped up, “Miss, did you watch that Kony movie?” I replied, “I saw it last night and I’ve been meaning to watch it – ” “Miss, we have to watch it,” the student interrupted.

Now me, when I’m tired sees me listening to the kids when I probably shouldn’t. They’re much more persuasive when I’ve not had my shot of coffee. I thought to myself, “Bugger it. This is relevant to these kids right now, let’s put it on and have a discussion about it.” I probably should’ve given myself some more time to set up a context but heck, sometimes you just run with things as a teacher, right?

So I threw my planned lesson out the window and we sat in silence, in the dark and watched KONY 2012.

Whatever your thoughts on KONY 2012 this post isn’t hear to defend any particular point of view but it is here to say that in that moment, that was what was relevant to my kids and it was affecting their lives and for the first time, I saw my teaching shift because I was so acutely aware and conscious of that and I tapped into it.

For the first time in my teaching practice I felt rebellious. I felt like I was stepping into a new realm of teaching where I was taking a risk, being devious, and stepping away from the plan. Which for me, being someone who can’t stand not sticking to the plan, is a total breakthrough.

Should I have felt that way at all? Part of me thinks not. I do, however, think I need to listen to this instinct and get better at formulating lessons around this idea of what’s immediate or relevant in my student’s lives. From this, I can see that a new philosophy is already forming for me about the kinds of risks I want to take and the challenges I want my kids to face in the classroom because in that moment, listening to the kids in that way and really connecting with what was important to them, then and there, was empowering to me. You felt something different happen to the energy in the room. It was like I was getting into their “realm” and the way they like to learn. I felt like I was succeeding.

KONY 2012 was the catalyst for me to work on how I connect with my students on a conceptual level and to develop my philosophy and approach to teaching even further. Watch this space.

Read about Joseph Kony, the Invisible Children Foundation and watch KONY 2012 here.

Will you use KONY 2012 in the classroom? Why/why not? If you have, what was your experience? What moment in your teaching changed the way you think and approach teaching? Comments appreciated.

Image Credit:Kony 2012 / Collin Harvey / CC BY 2.0

4 Comments

  1. I agree with what you’ve said. I also didn’t quite have time to see the whole thing before my class – I had a vague idea it might be relevant for my Yr 10 RE class, but kept getting interrupted each time I went to watch. 29 mins is a long time when you are in midst of the school day! However, I discovered only half of my class had had the chance to watch, so we took the time out to do so. They were absolutely silent for the whole time, engaged and empowered to DO something – one of the first comments was ‘ Can we put posters up around the school?’ followed by murmurs of ‘I’m going to buy the kit’. It generated some great discussion and made them aware of the world beyond them – something it is often difficult to get across to kids of this age!

  2. Hi Karla,

    The best article I’ve read regarding #Kony2012 was in fact written by an educator, Shelley Wright on Slactivism – it’s long but it’s good. It is a must read, in my opinion.

    What I do like to affirm is the Listening diet: EAT, my TMWR2012 PK, which I think you employed here. And I think you’ve shown, just as I mentioned then, when we truly listen, we learn.

    It almost sound like an epiphany for you. Maybe it is. Good luck.

    cheers,
    Malyn

  3. I did actually use it last week, and then wrote up a quick blog post about what I’d done: http://blogs.bedfordstmartins.com/highschoolbits/uncategorized/to-kony-or-not-to-kony/

    I wish I had had more time before we broke for our holidays to really get into this topic with my students. I think after a 2-week hiatus the momentum will have slowed a bit on it. But in that particular Media Studies course, I will probably change direction because of the Kony stuff, and instead of studying Advertisement, we will do a unit on social media activism and public service announcements. Creating their own PSAs seems like a logical extension of our discussion of this event and of the course goals. Having taught Drama too, in the past, I can see how something like that would work in a Drama classroom.

Thoughts?

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