Teach Like a Superhero: Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 of “Teach Like a Superhero.” If continuity is your thing, go back and read part 1 before continuing.

Ok you made it back and you’re ready for the big reveal. Which superhero should you emulate as a teacher?



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from Hawkeye by Fraction, Aja, & Hollingsworth. Property of Marvel Entertainment.

Yep. Hawkeye. First of all there are two Hawkeyes, male and female. Most of you are likely familiar with Clint Barton as Hawkeye from the Avengers movie. You may be less familiar with Kate Bishop a female Hawkeye who is equally brilliant and doesn’t have to take the name “Lady Hawkeye” or “Hawkeye Girl” or any garbage like that. She’s just Hawkeye. Consider the existance of equal male and female versions of Hawkeye as a bonus point. A good start, but there’s a lot more than equal gender representation that makes Hawkeye a good choice for teachers.

(Note on pronouns: Every reference to Hawkeye from this point forward applies to both Barton and Bishop collectively, and since english pronouns are gendered I’m picking male for the sake of consistency.)

Back on track. You’re probably thinking: “Why teach like Hawkeye? I saw the Avengers movie, and he gets mind-controlled almost immediately and then just sorta hangs out and shoots stuff. How is this at all good for teaching?”

Hawkeye has a unique set of skills and traits that make him a good model for teaching. Other heroes may have one or two of these, but it is the specific mix that corresponds well to good teaching. These are: humanity, skill, , knowledge of resources, adaptability, and efficiency.

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from Hawkeye by Fraction, Aja, & Hollingsworth. Property of Marvel Entertainment.

First and foremost Hawkeye is completely human: no faulty gamma radiation, no mutations, no radioactive hawk spider bite. This is a person in which we can see ourselves, as opposed to some artificially created super-being. Hawkeye is highly skilled and he’s honed all of his skills through extensive practice and training. There is no magic to Hawkeye’s success.

In addition though Hawkeye is human in that he is fallible. He makes mistakes, figures out the consequences and then perseveres through finding the right solution. Teachers have to do this as well. No teacher is perfect and no amount of preparation or planning will create a perfect, surprise-free lesson. The great teacher is not the one where everything goes according to plan; a great teacher is the one who smoothly adapts to unexpected situations, falling back on their practice and theory to use unexpected circumstances to their advantage.

With this in mind Hawkeye also has a fantastic knowledge of his resources. He has a wide range of arrows in his quiver each tailored to a specific task much like how highly skilled teachers can call on a diverse array of teaching techniques to appropriately address the needs of their students both expected and unexpected. Teachers regularly have to refine their practice in order to best meet the needs of all their students, and like Hawkeye, must continually develop new techniques to successfully solve problems and adapt to changing situations. There are absolutely some methods that teachers rely on more regularly, and each teacher will emphasize certain techniques more than others to customize their quiver, but all high quality teachers see their quiver of techniques as a living collection that is regularly assessed, modified, and tailored to their current needs.

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Hawkeye’s arrows from Hawkeye by Fraction, Aja, & Hollingsworth. Property of Marvel Entertainment.

Lastly Hawkeye must be efficient with his skills and resources, as a teacher must be as well. Hawkeye is limited in any encounter by the arrows in his quiver. While Cyclops can blast lasers from his eyes for an eternity, and Wonder Woman’s super strength never diminishes, Hawkeye can run out of arrows. (And he did in the Avengers movie.) To this end he must choose carefully, and it is in this selection that Hawkeye demonstrates his greatest skill that teachers should aspire to develop.

Teachers are not limited by arrows, but by time, be it the structure of a school year, the time in a day, or structured planning and grading time. It is absolutely essential that teachers use all of their available time effectively and efficiently every single day. Like Hawkeye, when our most essential resource is exhausted we become substantially less effective. Hawkeye is skilled in hand to hand combat, and a teacher can assign homework or send an after-hours email, but it is Hawkeye’s time with the bow, and the teacher’s direct time with students that are the most valuable and it is essentially to effectively maximize our impact while still in possession of this resource. Using every minute of a class period with purpose is an important hallmark of quality teaching.

Teachers are tasked with a great responsibility to shape and grow the future generation of leaders for the world. Superheroes are constantly tasked with saving the world. Our roles are not that different and as such our preparation and dedication should be equivalent as well. The teacher that aspires to be like Hawkeye, and pursues that aspiration with effort and dedication, will be a great teacher indeed.

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