So you want to be a teacher?
jes m
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The more I teach and think about teaching, the more I realize just how much my day-to-day decisions are the same types of moves I make boardgaming. Anyone who has set foot in a middle school should know it's like navigating through a dungeon crawler where the only way to win is to make it to Friday at 3:00 p.m.

Luckily for me it's summer break, which means I have time to check BGG and play more games stress-free.

This list is in case anyone was thinking about teaching (if you're on the fence, this should help knock you one way or the other).

EDIT: In case anyone is interested this school year was quite different, http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/174509/so-you-want-to-be-a...
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:5]
jes m
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Element: Escalation Prevention

Keeping 7th grade girls from destroying each other is kind of like preventing nuclear war. They are vicious, and vindictive (especially after Valentine's day). How do you keep it from escalating into all-out war? You divide and conquer. You diffuse defuse the situation. I've walked into crowds of students about to throw down, and diplomatically kept them from clawing each others eyes out. There's no point in trying to reach world peace, but you don't want to let it swing the other way either.

Edit: Word Choice whistle
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2. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:374]
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Element: Negotiations

Convincing stubborn 8th graders to hand work in can be a negotiation. I have one students who never turned things in for any other teacher. (As in average grade was like a 8%). But I managed to, and it was through negotiations. Like we were trading beans. "How about you give me four of those answers and you don't have to do the last one, but you have to get it done this turn...hour?" I still win as a teacher because he's doing 80% of the work, and mine was the only class he passed.

Granted, there were days when negotiating was as frustrating as that player in Settlers who won't give up his darn sheep. Then I often resorted to candy (I'm not above blatant bribes).
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3. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
jes m
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Element: Set Number of Rounds

There are only so many days in a school year, and they're chopped into rounds, each with a testing phase (which is like a harvest round). Tests must be taken. Report cards must be sent. Paperwork must be completed. And those kids must be taught certain things by then. If you don't prepare, all of a sudden it's time to feed your family and you're out of luck because darn it we haven't gotten to the poetry unit yet. In which case you take a begging cards and hope to do better next quarter. Right at the end, things fall into place. Your farm is going, your home is bigger, your animals are reproducing, then it's time for summer and you have to start over again.
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4. Board Game: Descent: Journeys in the Dark [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:271]
jes m
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Element: Dungeon Crawlers

Parent teach conferences can be this way. For starters, ours are late into the night well past dark. Being in the school that late can be unsettling. Then there's a lot of wandering around, waiting for a parent to show up (very few do).

When they do show, they might be one of two types. The type who is super happy to meet the angel who is teaching their student, and it's like finding a treasure. Or the type who is super angry because their angel is failing my class and they can't believe that they ever act out or lie and it totally must be my fault. Yeah, not so much treasures. Luckily there are bonus troops that you can bring to the fight (he's the assistant principal).
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5. Board Game: Gloom [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1462] [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
jes m
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Element: Story Telling

In what other profession do you have to come up with answers to questions like this on a daily basis? :

"What's an adverb?"
"Do you go to church?"
"Why are boys so stupid?"
"How do you find the area of a triangle?"
"What's a book I should read?"
"Why are we learning Greek mythology?"
"Do you believe in the Greek gods?"
"Why don't you think Captain America is the best super hero?"

And on and on. Sometimes these are asked one-on-one, sometime they are asked in the middle of class and if you're not careful can derail an entire lesson. The best thing you can be is a quick thinker who can answer things creatively, precisely, and on the fly. I don't lie to my students ever, but it always feels like coming up with a plausible reason why Darius Dark was hunted by horrors. (And that doesn't mean I'm not incredibly good at deflecting questions.)
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6. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
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Element: Crisis Prevention

Similar to preventing nuclear war, there are constantly dozens of tiny problems developing all over the school. Sitting in class, finally got them all quiet, it only takes ONE student to start whispering and twelve seconds later the entire class is screaming across the room at each other. Unless you can spot the talker who is going to start an outbreak and glare him or her down. I'm getting really good at the "teacher look."
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7. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:130]
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Element: Humor

I wouldn't be a teacher if I wasn't constantly entertained by my students. Yes, there are horribly sad things they sometimes tell you, but most of the chatter is hilarious. I travel around classrooms, and you would not believe the types of things I overhear in the hallways. Middle school students are like grandpas who haven't yet earned the right to say whatever the heck they want to say, they just do it because their frontal lobes haven't developed (don't quote me on that). The result is often quite humorous.
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8. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:326]
jes m
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Element: Luck

Sometimes, it's just up to the will of whatever higher power of schooling is out there. Last year I had a class of eighth graders that was a total nightmare (I still dream about it). This year I had a phenomenal group. They were on board for learning games, they participated in every activity, and they became much better writers. That perfect combination of kiddos was nothing but luck as far as I can tell.

Crossing my fingers about next year.
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9. Board Game: Ugg-Tect [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:2172]
jes m
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Element: Beating People with Clubs

I'm technically not allowed to do this.
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10. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:33]
jes m
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Element: Resource Management

Do I work on economy? Should I spend my building materials? Is research most important? Should I send out an email to all the teachers asking if anyone has staples, or just buy my own? Should I let the students use my colored pencils knowing half won't make it back? Which teachers are willing to share their curriculum? How many materials are needed for a poster project? Where can I get them on site?

I'm given $25 a school year for my classroom...you learn to manage your resources.
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11. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:137] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Element: Worker Placement

Teaching doesn't take place in a vacuum, you have to navigate the physical space as well. Which students can do their work in the hallway? Which students need to sit in the front or they'll zone out the entire class period? Which students can be trusted to take a note to the office? Which students need to be sent to the office? Which students need extra jobs like passing back papers? And groups, who can work with whom without completely failing to do any work?
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12. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit [Average Rating:5.20 Overall Rank:15614]
jes m
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Element: Educated Guesses and Admission of Being Wrong

Not everyone can know everything, and nothing delights 6th graders to the point of hysteric giggles than to correct their teacher. Want to get a class into an up-roar? Misspell a word on the white board.

That same giggling joy manifests itself in a different way with older students. Admitting you're wrong, or don't know how to spell a word correctly makes them trust you as both a teacher and a person. If you're willing to learn, why shouldn't they? If you're not afraid to make some mistakes, why should they be? Showing my students that I'm human has helped me make great strides with them as people and consequently as learners.
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