When I was studying to become a teacher, I was frustrated by the amount of time we spent analyzing texts rather than talking about how to teach. I wanted to know how to present material in ways that engaged my students; I wanted tips for classroom management; I needed to feel more confident in my new role.
Once I had my own classroom, I continued to look for best practices: to discover how to captivate students who were rarely as enthusiastic about my subject area as I was. I wish the internet had been available then: I might have found Jennifer Gonzalez and her insightful Cult of Pedagogy.
Jennifer Gonzalez is like your best teaching friend and the mentor you always wanted. She takes pedagogy (the practice of teaching) seriously, but she approaches the art of teaching with grace, insight and humour. Her use of the word “cult,” she tells us on her “Start Here” page, refers to her obsession (her word) with the practices that underlie good teaching. She offers both new and experienced teachers clear and insightful explanations of some of the most current topics and methods in education and gives guided instructions for using best practices in our own classrooms.
Cult of Pedagogy is designed around a monthly blog (archived back to 2013) divided into three general topic areas: “The Craft” which deals with how to fine-tune your teaching practice; “Go Deep” which explores the theoretical fundamentals of teaching; and “Teacher Soul” which Gonzalez classifies as getting to the “raw emotions of teaching.” The blog entries are also offered as Podcasts, and many are supported by video segments illustrating basic concepts. Blog entries focus on topics like classroom management, technology, instruction, learning theory and leadership, as well as entries designed to inspire or, when necessary, to consider an attitude adjustment. Gonzalez wants us to not only be better teachers, but also to take better care of ourselves. Her approach is straightforward and clear-eyed: she understands the challenges facing teachers, and addresses them without a trace of bitterness or condescension.
Gonzalez’s recent discussion of Single-Column Rubrics led me to redesign some of my text-heavy evaluation documents, and her note to school administrators titled “What Your Teachers Want You To Know” begs to be shared with both teachers and administrators, to remind each group of the challenges facing the other.
Although Cult of Pedagogy is based in the U.S., most of the topics could have been lifted from your last PD or staff room discussion anywhere in Ontario. You can sign up for weekly emails from Cult of Pedagogy, which will alert you to new blogs or podcasts. Gonzalez also sells products from her site, but it never feels like a pushy hard sell.