Diego Napoles tends to stay away from teacher rant videos, but he recently made an exception for an important topic. Diego is a 4th grade teacher in California, and he’s asking educational experts to stop giving advice to teachers if they haven’t been in the classroom for a while.
The video struck a nerve with his fellow educators, with many weighing in with their support. Take a look at the video for yourself and see Diego’s intentions behind it.
Why did you make this particular video?
It’s been a thought in my mind for a while, and it’s a conversation I’ve had with my colleagues as well. I don’t tend to do rant videos, but this is a topic worth talking about. There’s often a disconnect between teachers in the classroom who work with students every day and the people who are giving them advice. We need to recognize this.
What’s wrong with experts giving advice to classroom teachers?
Oftentimes, you have really qualified, notable people with great profiles and best-selling books. They might have written about how you can “teach so much better.” But if those people haven’t been in the classroom in the last several years, it’s worth recognizing that things are different.
How is it different?
Pre-COVID and post-COVID are different. Students have changed in this post-COVID time, and we teachers have done a lot to adjust. So much has happened in a few years, and a lot has definitely happened in 10 to 15 years. For instance, attention spans used to be longer. Cell phones weren’t as big of a deal. And social media wasn’t as big of an issue as it is today. Anyone giving advice who hasn’t taught in a classroom with these challenges probably doesn’t understand the full picture of teaching in today’s schools.
What kind of advice is needed for teachers?
We need practical advice. We need examples and relatable information we can take and use. I understand this can be a hard thing to distinguish. When I first started doing my own TikTok videos, I did a lot of “you should do ______” types of pieces. There’s no way those don’t come off as judgmental. So then I changed my approach. I really tried to focus on practical advice for my fellow teachers.
What’s an example of that?
Let’s take relationship building for instance. Instead of saying things like, “You have to build relationships with your students (which we all know),” I tried to instead give examples of how I had done this myself. With my own students, I really try to get to know them and ask them questions. I will ask if they play Pokemon Go or Fortnite. I find out of they like LOL dolls or have certain hobbies.
How is it different for people who are not in the classroom?
Just knowing what kids are into can make a big difference these days. When you are not in the classroom, you forget all those little things that kids experience throughout the day and how the world around them has an impact. These are important things to keep in mind when giving advice to other teachers.
What’s your advice to admin or professionals who work with teachers like you?
Well, I actually have good admin and a really good principal who works hard to make sure he gets into classrooms and engages with kids regularly. This means a lot to me. But my advice is to just get in a classroom as much as possible. Teach a lesson. Handle a classroom management challenge. See what kids of today are talking about and experiencing. It really does make a difference, and there’s a good chance your teachers will be more likely to hear you out.
What’s the best/worst teaching advice you’ve received? Come share on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Also, be sure to check out Teachers Share Their Best Advice for Managing Parents.