Rules For Posting To This Blog and Weekly Blog Question

1. Only use your first name (no last names, addresses, IM screen names, etc.)
2. Show respect and consideration of others when posting and commenting. This includes individuals, students, organizations, political parties, colleagues, etc.
3. Check all posts for spelling and grammar errors before posting.
4. Protect the privacy of others. Gain permission from other people before you write about them. Avoid sharing someone else's last name. Use job titles or pseudonyms when writing about experiences with your co-workers or students.
5. Watch your language. Use politically correct and non-offensive language.
6. Make sure you write about things that are factual.
7. Keep your postings education-oriented. Avoid discussing plans for the weekend, etc.

This week I would like you to use your imagination. You have just won the lottery and will leave your teaching post immediately to travel around the world. As you leave your keys you meet your replacement. You are asked to give this new teacher just ONE piece of advice. What would that be, and why? Enjoy your world expedition!

Blog Post - Week 7
This past week in my own teaching I felt a little disconnected which prompts my question to you, "What was the moment (or moments) when I felt most disconnected or disengaged as a teacher - the moment(s) I said to myself, I'm just going through the motions here?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 6
For the past couple of weeks you have experienced asynchronous online learning (doing modules by yourself). Previously this semester you have experienced synchronous online learning (all together in the Collaborate room). Which do you think is more effective and why do you think that? Which do you like better, and why?

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 5
This week we have what we call "open mic." You can write a post about anything related to your teaching that you would like responses from your classmates.

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 4
Here is this week's question: "What was the event that most took me surprise this week - and event that shook me up, caught me off guard, gave me a jolt, or made me unexpectedly happy?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 3
Please write a post about the following question, "In thinking about my past week teaching what is one thing I would do differently, and why?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 2
Please write a post about the following question, " In thinking about my teaching activities this past week, of what do I feel most proud? Why?"

Fall Semester 2016 Blog Post - Week 1
Describe something you used in your program in the first weeks of school that you learned in the summer NTI program. How did it work? Did it get you off to a stronger start than last year?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"What is the most important thing I have learned about teaching and learning?"

When I first started teaching, it was in the middle of the school year, February to be exact.  I was the third teacher in the class in the school year.  Fourth, if you went back to the end of the previous school year and took into consideration the teacher that had left at that time.  When I came in, the class changed from a hybrid of engineering/broadcast video class to strictly a broadcast video class.  

Really, just because of dumb luck, I was able to recognize early on that I couldn't teach the kids much about video production.  At least not at that point.  I realized that what the kids needed more than anything was to know that tomorrow I was going to show up for work.  And that's what I did.  I just focused on being there.

There was a student in one of my classes that semester who was hard of hearing and required an interpreter.  The interpreter told me at the end of the year that he was convinced the students were doing everything they could to make me quit.  I never saw that, but they certainly were out of control.

But just by showing up, not losing my cool, trying to teach them a little along the way, I think they started to warm up to me being their teacher.

After the summer, I showed up for the start of the school year and found the students a little more receptive to learning in my classroom.  It wasn't perfect, but I could begin teaching them.  Unfortunately, I had no idea how to teach, so I was just doing things that I thought might work.  Some things did, others didn't.  It didn't help that there was no curriculum.  I was having to build everything from the ground up with very little idea of how to do that and few resources to use.

I was also still concentrating on changing the culture of the classroom, but again, I had no idea how to really do that.  I was just trying any and everything I could think of, asking teachers for advice, just doing the best I could.  But despite all of it, I kept showing up.  

Fast forward to today.  I now have (almost) two semesters in the New Teacher Institute under my belt and I am slowly, but surely learning how to teach the students the things I think they should know.  But I still think one of the keys to teaching and leaning is that the students just have to know you are there for them.  

I think a lot of kids feel abandoned.  So, just being a constant, even-keeled presence in their lives is important.

Anyone can teach someone else just about anything.  But to truly learn, to really make a change in a person, in this case students, I think they have to know you care about them.

Now, it won't matter to some of them.  And that's not you're fault as a teacher.  You can't have those sorts of connections with every single student.  But, that should never be the focus.  I think the focus should be connecting with as many students as possible on a meaningful level so that you can guide those students toward a better life. And the first step is show them that you care about them, not as students in a video production class or a cosmetology class, or a wood working class, but as people.

I am always looking at my students grades in other classes and talking to them about those things.  I want them to pass my class and do the best they can do, sure, but I want them to see that my concern for them goes a lot farther than just the classroom door.  It extends out into the hallways and even the community.  Who knows, for some kids I might be the only one doing that.  I am certain some of their parents don't show they care that much.  So, that's important, I think.  

I also don't get on them about their grades in other classes.  The last thing a lot of them need is someone chewing them out.  I just talk to them about things, find out why they are struggling and try to point them in the right direction as best I can.  

Of course, in doing these things, you put the spotlight on yourself.  They are looking to you as an example, so if you lose your temper, say things you shouldn't say, or do things you shouldn't do, they are going to think those things are okay.  I set the bar pretty high in my classroom in that regards.  And I hold myself to that standard.

That's not to say I'm perfect.  Part of this is letting the students see you fail sometimes.  It is in those moments that you can teach them how to overcome failure and still strive to be better.  

So, in closing (I've once again gone on and on and on) I'd say the most important thing I have learned about teaching and learning is that you can't teach without caring for your students.  And they can't learn without understanding you care for them.  It has to be more than just words, too.  You have to show them you care.  And that's hard work sometimes, but I think it is something I have already seen pay off in my classroom and in the lives of some of my students.


Healthcare Science said...

I can not imagine how hard that must have been being the fourth teacher in the classroom. I commend you for sticking it out. I know the students really appreciate that! I know that the students respect you for stepping in and sticking it out. I know you taught them to never give up even when things are tough. I can honestly say I do not know if I could have toughed it out.

T Watts said...

It helps to be stubborn and stupid. I pride myself on that. :)

Seriously, it wasn't easy. It still isn't. But, at the risk of sounding like I am bragging, I can see the good I am doing. It's been just as good for me, though, since I was not in the best situation when I left my last job. This job has really made a difference in me.