Bryant Barker | 7th Grade

Bryant Barker is a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher originally from Oklahoma who now plies his trade in Bentonville, Arkansas. With ten years of teaching experience to his credit, it’s clear that Mr. Barker knows a thing or two about how to create lesson plans that students will love. And you’ve had the good fortune to check out his Twitter feed recently, this savvy classroom vet makes it look easy! As it is clear that his passion for student centered teaching burns as brightly today as it ever did. But sometimes, appearances can be awfully deceiving — and Mr. Barker sat down with us recently to share an eye-opening story about how he rediscovered his love of teaching through the resources available on EMC² Learning.

COVID-Leftovers Lead to One Stale Learning Environment

The year after COVID was my absolute hardest year as a teacher. I had some of the rowdiest, most disconnected and difficult students I’ve ever had. Every class was the hard class. None of what I’d always done was working (and I kinda felt like what I’d always done was pretty good). There wasn’t any connection or classroom community. Students didn’t seem interested in working as teams, collaborating, or pushing themselves out of their comfort zones. It was the year from Hell, and I was bound and determined to not let that happen again this year. 

I knew that student buy-in was becoming an issue for me, especially in the post-COVID world. It was becoming more and more obvious that it simply wasn’t possible to teach the way that I’d always taught. I knew that I needed to change my approach, my philosophy, and my perspective. More than that though, in all honesty, I was experiencing MAJOR burnout, too. It really sucks when you aren’t excited to go to work every day. When you don’t feel like you’re connecting with your students. When you don’t feel like you’re making a difference. To sum this up, before diving into the resources provided by you guys, I was starting to feel like I’d made a big mistake with my choice of career. 

It felt like I was being force-fed a Pessimism and Anxiety sandwich every day. 

Discovering The Keys to Endless Creativity

After browsing the EMC² resources to at the start of this school year, it dawned on my that I don’t have to gamify an entire year-long adventure to foster more game-based, student-centered learning in my class. When I saw how many themes and styles of games that were available on your site, I realized that I could bounce between “Normal” class and “Gamification” in a much simpler way. I started focusing games on small events, like the start of football season, or the world series, or Wrestlemania. This allowed me to create a variety of experiences for my students, to embed a bit more significance in some of the games we play, and to satisfy my creativity, which was super duper lacking before diving into all your site has to offer. Nowadays, I not only look forward to seeing what new games and resources you guys drop on your site, but I also look forward to chance to create my own stuff. Without EMC² and what you guys have created, so many of my ideas and creations would have never came to fruition. 

"These activities haven't only been reliable resources in my class, but they've inspired me and given me ideas to create my own games and activities, which has been the biggest factor in my EMC² turnaround."

Endless Adventures and New Chapters Await

What EMC² Learning provides is different than the kinds of resources one gets from TPT or a curriculum guide. These activities don’t require a teacher to follow a regimented set of instructions or modify their style or pedagogy. Instead, these activities are perfect because of how they’re blank slates, essentially. EMC² Learning resources allow a teacher to put their spin on things, to alter any expectations or rules they feel they need to, and to change any visuals that need changing.  

I genuinely look forward to coming to school every day. I love the creative process of putting a game together from scratch. I actually have to stop myself from working at home because of how much I love seeing something that I’ve came up with (or borrowed from the site) works. It’s exciting, scary, and exactly what I needed to reinvest in my career as a teacher. Thanks to EMC² Learning, I’ve found my niche, my purpose, and my why (as cheesy as that sounds). 

EMC² Learning is home to more than 600 fully editable resources for any course or content area. Engagement Engineers and members of the Creative Corps enjoy a full year of access to each of these resources on demand. We hope you’ll consider joining us to unlock a full year of site access. For complete details including our exclusive limited time offer for annual site membership, click here.

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