CPD: What the Kardashians can teach us about education | #teacher | #children | #kids

On Tuesday 8 September 2020, my heart was broken. Scrolling through Instagram, I saw that Kim Kardashian-West had posted a throwback Keeping Up With the Kardashians picture. 

“How nostalgic!” I thought, until I started to read the caption. There, in black and white, was my deepest fear confirmed: KUWTK is ending. 

Now, I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but, over their 20 seasons, the Kardashian/Jenner/Disick clan have provided plenty of lessons for teachers. So, without further ado, I present to you a krash kourse in KPD…

Positive reinforcement is everything

Every manager knows that, to get the best out of your team, a little praise can go a long way. This is no different in the classroom. 

Way back in Season 1, momager Kris Jenner encouraged daughter Kim on her Playboy shoot with the now-infamous “You’re doing amazing, sweetie”. Had Kris not encouraged her back in the early days, Kim may never have broken the internet seven years later with her Paper cover (you know, the one with the champagne glass balanced…there). 

Encouragement and positive reinforcement don’t only build relationships between you and your students, they encourage progress and create a culture of success in your classroom. 

Prepare before a cover lesson

Whether you’re a teacher or a student, everyone has a cover-lesson horror story from their time in the classroom. While cover lessons are the education equivalent of a lucky-dip bag, try as much as possible to prepare beforehand, to avoid being caught out by any pranksters. 

In Season 8, Scott “The Lord” Disick – father to eldest daughter Kourtney’s children and firm fan favourite – prank-called Kris, pretending to be a son of her friend, and uttering the universe-altering phrase: “Auntie Kris! It’s me, Todd Kraines.” 

You’d have thought Kris would have caught on, but nope. The Todd Kraines saga went on and on, and us KUWTK fans continue to revel in it…much like a group of Year 11s you once took for a cover lesson when they were in Year 7 will never, ever let go of the fact that they once convinced you that they were definitely allowed to eat during lessons, or that there was absolutely never a seating plan. 

Manage mobile phones in the classroom

While this is a debate that rages on, I’m firmly on the side of avoiding phones in lessons as much as possible, if for no other reason than the sheer level of addictive distractions they provide, leading students to miss crucial moments. 

Who can forget the moment when Kim’s addiction to her camera reached a boiling point in Season 3? Kris, having told Kim that Khloe had been caught drink-driving, had to ask, “Kim, would you stop taking pictures of yourself? Your sister is going to jail.”

While it’s one of my all-time favourite Kim moments, it’s also a sharp reminder that technology often encourages people to zone out from situations where focus is key, and we should carefully consider its purpose in the classroom. 

Be organised…but don’t expect perfection

Going with the flow of a classroom can be difficult, especially early in your career when you’ve yet to experience the destruction of projectile vomit, an IT meltdown, or the falling of a single snowflake. 

Last year, the internet went crazy for Khloe’s perfectly organised cookie jars (there’s a YouTube tutorial if you’d like to join in) and laughed as she lay across her kitchen floor wondering who had walked in front of her fridge, leaving marks on the floor. 

While Khloe openly admits to being an organisational obsessive, Kris gently reminds Khloe that, once “you have kids, everything isn’t going to be perfect all the time”.

This is an important message for all of us, but especially our trainees and NQTs. Yes, stay on top of things, but obsessing over perfection in such a variable, unpredictable job will lead to unmanageable expectations and cause upset when things don’t quite meet unrealistic standards. 

Not too warm, not too strict

You didn’t honestly think I’d get through this article without bringing up Kim’s crying face, did you? 

Away on holiday in Season 6, Kim gets thrown into the sea and has her most iconic breakdown of all time, repeatedly crying, “I lost my diamond earring!” 

While Kris is calm and soothing, her sister Kourtney is decidedly less so, yelling out, “Kim, there’s people that are dying.” 

Now, while I don’t necessarily think yelling this at students, Kourtney-style, is a good idea, I would argue that somewhere in this Kardashian-response Venn diagram is the perfect balance for dealing with classroom dramas: being understanding and compassionate is crucial, but offering perspective and rational thinking around problems is vital, too.

As a side note, Kim also teaches us here not to wear anything too valuable on school trips. 

There are so many more lessons to be learnt from KUWTK: think “This is a case for the FBI” when students are being secretive, “I know a thing or two about rap music” when they ask if you’ve heard of Eminem, or “Once I get out of those doors, it’s beast mode” as you get ready for another day at the chalkface. 

I don’t know what’ll be next for the family. But, having taken on every industry from make-up to music, maybe they’ll take on schools next, and launch their own brand of klassrooms? 

Lauran Hampshire-Dell is a teacher and tutor

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