Michael Bonner, the ‘rapping teacher,’ fires up Sarasota educators

Note: This article was originally published by Herald Tribune on March 15, 2019.

An auditorium of teachers attending mandatory professional development on the Friday before spring break wouldn’t be described as an “easy crowd.”

But Friday morning at Venice Performing Arts Center, Michael Bonner – the “rapping teacher” who appeared on “Ellen” after a music video he made with his second-grade students went viral – had roughly 400 educators laughing, murmuring in agreement and standing in ovation as he left the stage.

The teacher, speaker and soon-to-be-published author urged the roomful of educators to venture into their students’ world – visit kids at home, learn about the pop culture they love, and don’t be afraid of feeling too old to relate to them.

“You can’t demand a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in,” said Bonner, who emphasized personal relationships as key to being an effective teacher.


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