What's Up with The Wild Card?
Hey, y'all. I'm sure by now you've seen all the social media posts about the book The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator's Creative Breakthrough by Hope and Wade King. If you're anything like me, you've asked yourself what all the hype was about and is it really worth it?
Well…I couldn't resist so I had to find out for myself. And I'm here to answer that question for you.
Disclaimer: This is NOT an affiliate post. I am in no way related to The Wild Card or it's publishing team other than being a fellow educator with a dream to inspire my students. The opinions in this post are my own and I do not receive compensation for writing this article.
First of all, Hope and Wade King are a married couple that teach at the same school, The Ron Clark Academy. They have a massive social media presence and The Ron Clark Academy is well known for it's outside-of-the-box-get-the-kids-up-and-moving teaching styles. (Mr. Clark has his own line of books about teaching as well and they are absolutely phenomenal.) Teachers at this school know a thing or two about creativity. (If you aren't familiar with The Ron Clark Academy you should totally check them out after you finish reading this.) If anyone should write a book about being a creative educator, it's these people.
Second, the term "the wild card" refers to you, the teacher. Children are dealt a hand in life that they have no control over. They didn't get to choose their parents, their siblings, their home environment, or even what school they attend (usually). But you can be their wild card. Their game changer. Their cheerleader that gets them excited for learning. You are the wild card.
Most of us have a prescribed set of standards we have to teach. Many of us even have scripted curriculum that suck all the joy and spontaneity out of teaching. But that doesn't mean that we have to live and die by those rules. This book talks about how to breathe life into the curriculum and engage your students like never before.
I have heard teachers say things like, "This reading/math/science program takes all the joy out of reading/math/science." Or, "The kids are BORED with this program." Or, and my favorite, "Even a monkey could teach it like this!" And I get it. Not all programs are amazing. But I am here to tell you that the script does not equal the end. You don't teach programs, standards, or scripts. You teach children.
In The Wild Card, Hope and Wade illustrate several ways in which you can take the script or the standards and make them yours. Let me explain.
Ok, so admin says, "READ THE SCRIPT!" Do they tell you how fast or slow you have to go? Probably not. So read that baby fast, cover all the bases, and MOVE ON! Supplementing curriculum is differentiation and we all know how much admin likes that buzzword.
Or maybe you have the opposite issue. Maybe your admin says, "Here's the standards, go for it," with little or no guidance along the way. While this can be exciting for some, it can be terrifying for others.
The fix for both? Get creative.
Now what exactly does that mean? In Hope's world, it's room transformations that tie the curriculum goals into a central theme. In Wade's world, it's content rich songs among other things. For some teachers, it's STEM or STEAM lessons. For others, it's art, movement, technology, relationships, debates, games, cheers—the list really is endless.
How do you find your creative breakthrough that takes your class's engagement to the next level and increases their learning (and in turn, their test scores—because reality, right?) like never before? Practice, practice, practice. And yes, READ THIS BOOK.
Hope and Wade do an amazing job of explaining what it means to be the wild card and how to overcome any limitations others (or you) may have placed on you as far as creativity goes. They show you how to overcome those obstacles and roadblocks and how to reconnect with your why (in case you've forgotten). They discuss the three easiest ways to increase engagement. And guess what! They're all FREE!
So if you're looking for inspiration to get your students wanting to come to school, then this is the book for you. Don't worry, you don't have to be a stand-on-the-table-turn-your-room-upsidedown or sing-all-day-long kind of teacher to make your mark. Being a copy of someone else will just exhaust you and you'll always feel a step behind others.
The whole point is to become the best you you can be. Your students need your talents and your inspiration and your expertise. So find you as a teacher. Not the you that the curriculum publishing company or the state board says you should be. YOU. The real you. The one that your family and your students love. Y-O-U—YOU.
Not sure how to bring that part of you out to inspire your students? Hope and Wade know. And they'll happily share that information. All you have to do is start reading.