We Don't Always Get a Roadmap

Recently, I discovered that one of my favorite writers — John Warner — has found his way onto Substack: Educational Endeavors. One of his recent posts was about Wordle:

Wordle Is Good Pedagogy
Reflecting on how Wordle works from a pedagogical POV

I have to admit that I knew very little about Wordle until this week. Many of my students started asking me: “Hebert, you play Wordle, don’t you?” I had not heard of Wordle, but then I saw Warner’s article about Wordle as pedagogy, and I also saw Malala posting about Wordle on Twitter:

So, I made my first attempt at Wordle, and here is the result:

Wordle 224 5/6

I have to be honest: though I did read the instructions, I thought there was going to be some kind of clue. But there wasn’t. You just have to start by typing in a five-letter word. Initially, I was frustrated by this. How many five-letter words are there? Where should I start? How to begin? The only five-letter words that were coming to mind were words that seemed like horrible guesses, words that contained uncommon letters.

I entered my first five-letter word and found there were absolutely no matches. None of my letters were correct. Then, I entered a second word and saw that I at least had one letter matched, though it wasn’t in the right spot (this is the yellow box). Things progressed from there and eventually, I figured out how to work this dang Wordle puzzle.

This may seem like a leap to some of you, and that’s fine, but I couldn’t help but think that this was some kind of metaphor for teaching in the pandemic. We don’t get a clue. We don’t get a roadmap. We just have to jump in and try some things out and see what works.

As teachers, we can sit and wonder what the best course of action is, but we’re not really going to know until we get down into the mix and do it. This is the difference between the ivory tower approach to education — the one often criticized for being based on theory but not on actual experience — and the real work of teaching.

As you head into February, as you look at these cold days, where do you need to throw caution to the wind and dive in? Where do you need to stop hoping for a roadmap or a clue? Where do you need to just try something new?

Do it! If it turns out to be a total dud, then iterate and make it better.

This Month on ROOTED

Ballooning Responsibilities & Identifying What Matters
To be a teacher in 2022 feels like a graceless situation…what to do about it?

From Around the Web

Black History Month Teaching: Miseducation or Empowerment?
This high school English teacher encourages educators to focus on African Americans’ contributions to the United States, with the Harlem Renaissance as a way to begin.
I Stopped Americanizing My Name, So You’ll Have to Learn How to Pronounce It
“When I was trying different nicknames, I was trying to hide my culture and background.”
A Reminder About The Uselessness Of Test Scores
The slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.
Back to School: Co-Create Your Space to Build Community
Back when I had my own classroom, nothing fired me up for the school year more than getting my room ready. I’d spend hours putting up posters, adorning the walls with eye-catching student work from previous school years while leaving space for new student work. I’d create new systems for homework co…
Why Education Is About To Reach A Crisis Of Epic Proportions
Almost half of teachers are thinking about leaving their jobs. Where does that leave America?
Taking the SAT with the Breakout Expert from Operation Varsity Blues
Akil Bello schools me on a test I first took 34 years ago


ROOTED Monthly is a fresh collection of posts, links, and ideas about teaching. Please feel free to forward this newsletter or ask friends to subscribe. We'd love to reach a larger audience, especially if it will be helpful to any educators out there. Lastly, we would love to feature your voice on ROOTED. If you have an idea for an article, please go to our submissions page and get in touch with us.