The Groove

This is my follow up post to Am I Teaching in a Rut

By Shane Gavin [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Shane Gavin [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Without offending your musical sensibilities, I want those who might have been singing Madonna’s Get into the Groove, to turn it off of their mental playlist for a few minutes, and spin Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground instead.

It’s OK, if you have both battling it out in your brain. I did. Stevie prevailed in case you wondered.

Although it’s catchy, the Madonna track gets me into a small groove, but it can’t keep me there. Music is like that. I count on it, always, to get me in a steady groove and to keep me there. Shouldn’t education be like that too?

So, what’s a groove?  Is it a track or channel that you fit yourself? Is it a vibe or a feeling? Is a groove smooth? How do you distinguish when you’re in a groove versus a rut? And how does it relate to my practice and pedagogy when you’re in one?

A groove is something that fits you perfectly. A groove feels good. When you’re in a groove, it never feels like what you’re doing is work. Being in the groove is contagious. It helps others around you find theirs too.* Imagine a whole school where everyone is in their teaching and learning groove? Students are witness to enthusiastic educators who are fearless learners and relentless encouragers.

What an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and share everything that is awesome in education?

The groove is good

So whenever it feels like work then you’re in a rut. A rut travels from A to B or deeper. A rut wears down the traveler and the trail. Teaching in a rut is like being on auto-pilot because you’ve been down the same worn path over and over. A rut leaves its travelers dulled before, during, and after the journey.

The foundation for this post was set by wondering whether I am teaching in a rut or rocking/rolling along in a groove? And whether one was different from the other? My original post can be summed up in 3 key points to help stay out of a rut;

  1. Being a flexible learner in front of students and colleagues
  2. Being open and adaptable to what and where I teach(kind of like #1).
    Seeing the challenge as something to accomplish rather than feeling punished for it.
  3. Being unafraid of change even when it is something unknown

Thinking about this might be scary for some. Many of us have been raised in a corporate culture that requires keeping a nose to the grindstone, focused on the job, and safe from risk. That is precisely why we have to lift our heads and stretch our outlook. This comes from taking chances in the classrooms, hallways, staff-rooms. We have to encourage one another to share ideas, passions, successes, and failures. Teachers need to celebrate “the hard times and the good” with our students and with each other. That’s how we will find our groove(s)?

For me the groove is what gets me out of bed before the sun rises. It makes me excited to share learning with my students and with a world of educators. A groove does not have time for pettiness, negativity or self indulgence. A groove is designed for the positive, potential, and process in education.

Now the hard part…

What’s your groove? If you could do anything in education knowing you’d succeed, what would it be?
Thank you for reading. Please share and keep the conversation going in the comments section.


* Oh, oh! I just thought of a B52’s song to go with this post.

I love music in most of it’s forms. It pervades my day, accompanies me as I work/relax, and provides me insight into people as an inter-generational time machine and lens. For a deeper understanding about the soundtrack to my life, click on this link to I(n) Tune.


Updated: March 29, 2017 — 4:54 pm

The Author

Will Gourley

J/I lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, and divergent modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 110 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at


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  1. Sherri says:

    Thank you Will for an inspiring article.

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