Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The evolution of the teacher

The evolution of the teacher…
So what is the role of a teacher?  The role of a teacher has certainly evolved over the years and now, perhaps more than ever, that role is in question?  In the 15th Century a teacher helped children to read and write and of course to understand the bible.  The upper class, mostly royals and those in living in monasteries, were privy to formal education.   In the 17th century scientist and educator John Amos Comenius disseminated a reformed system of universal education that was widely used in Europe.  Ivan Betskoy (an educational advisor to Catherine II) proposed to educate young Russians of both sexes in state boarding schools, aimed at creating "a new race of men".  There was an increasing academic interest in education and the first attempts to create what might be considered academic rationales for teaching methods.  This led, in the 1770s, to the establishment of the first chair of pedagogy at the University of Halle in Germany.
The first American schools in the thirteen original colonies opened in the 17th century. Boston Latin School was founded in 1635 and is both the first public school and oldest existing school in the United States.   All the New England colonies required towns to set up schools, and many did so. In 1642 the Massachusetts Bay Colony made "proper" education compulsory; other New England colonies followed.  The larger towns in New England opened grammar schools, the forerunner of the modern high school.  The most famous was the Boston Latin School, which is still in operation as a public high school.  Schools became part of the community
As formal education developed, so did the role of the teacher.  The teacher was at the center of most formal education.  Early schools were limited to one room and one teacher.  That teacher was charged with supervising, educating, and disciplining the entire student body.  Reading was taught from books like the bible and math was rudimentary and basic.  In the 17th century, the schoolbooks were brought over from England. By 1690, Boston publishers were reprinting the English Protestant Tutor under the title of The New England Primer. The "blue backed speller" of Noah Webster was by far the most common textbook from the 1790s until 1836, when the McGuffey Readers appeared. Both series emphasized civic duty and morality, and sold tens of millions of copies nationwide. 
Formal curriculum did not exist, and teaching was done according to what the town needed.  The school system remained largely private and unorganized until the 1840s. Public schools were always under local control, with no federal role, and little state role. The 1840 census indicated that of the 3.68 million children between the ages of five and fifteen, about 55% attended primary schools and academies.      Teaching young students was not perceived as an end goal for educated people.
 Adults became teachers without any particular skill except sometimes in the topic they were teaching. The checking of credentials was left to the local school boards, who were mainly interested in the efficient use of limited taxes. This started to change with the introduction of two-year normal schools starting in 1823. By the end of the 19th century, most teachers of elementary schools were trained in this fashion.  As education became more formal, so did the training of teachers.  Teachers organized themselves during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1917, the National Education Association (NEA) was reorganized to better mobilize and represent teachers and educational staff.
During the 60’s teachers also assumed the role of disciplinarian.  Tales of “the paddle” instilled fear into students, allowing teachers to better control their classroom.  This image carried a lot of weight in the public’s perception as teachers were seen to have an important role in raising a child.  The “portrayal” of teachers in movies was always an older man or woman with rimmed glasses and an ever present scowl and swinging a yard stick.  “Corporal Punishment” was eventually banned and the image of the teacher would be changed forever.
The image of a teacher, and the power they once held, was lost.  Now teaching was simply another career.  The apathetic public now sees teachers as lazy, greedy, and covetous.  The public’s perception is fueled by media reports of sexual encounters, “greedy” strikes, and demands for higher pay.  The public thinks that teachers work short hours, have summers off, and do very little work.  What the public does not see is the preparation time, the long hours grading papers and the developmental education. 
If we do not change to the public’s perception of what a teacher is, teachers will continue to leave the profession in droves.  While most teachers do not do it for the money, paying teachers appropriately will help.  While money may help, regaining the public’s respect is the key.  This can be accomplished in different ways.   
First and foremost, we must remove ourselves from the front pages.  We need to stop performing immoral acts with our students and regain the moral character of the profession.  Second, we must work with the public and reinstall the community feel of our schools.  Accentuate the positive; create webpages to show off the good that our schools are doing to.   Invite the neighbors into our schools to show off the pride.
In the 18th Century, schools were seen as an important part of the community.  It was where the children learned the skills needed to support the community.  Nothing has changed.  School is still where our children learn the skills needed to support the community.  It has been placed on our shoulders, we as educators, are responsible for rebuilding the image.  Let’s get to work!      

Friday, August 23, 2013


Where did we go wrong?  Where has respect gone?  Can we ever get it back?  Can we change enough to make an impact?


As a parent, as a male, as an American, I am appalled at the behavior recently exposed in the headlines.  A visitor to our country is ruthlessly gunned down by a group of untethered thugs and a World War II hero is beaten and left for dead.  Yet the headline on MSNBC website reads “Might as Well Just Die”: Transgender Prisoners Go to Extremes for Sex Change”.  As most American’s sleep, the country is falling apart from the inside out.


Theories abound as to why we have de-gradated so far.  Some blame the lack of jobs, some blame education, and some blame society.  Ultimately it is the degradation of the American Family that is to blame.  Well over 50% of our children live in mixed, blended, or single parent households.  Even those in “traditional” families, both parents often work.  The result is our children are left unsupervised for long periods of time.  We leave it up to society to teach our children morals and correct behavior, while the parents slave away at minimum wage jobs.  Too tired to “parent” these children are left to fend for themselves. 


Our schools are no help.  Underfunded and under staffed our schools barely have time for those students that excel, much less those that struggle.  Cities are laying off teachers at a record pace, yet oblivious to current events our President promises Head-Start Pre-K for all and promotes the hiring of 500,000 new Science and Math Teachers.  Amazing new technology is being developed, yet most schools cannot afford it.  What happened to the “wired classrooms” promised by our government?  So where can a child turn?


How about to the church?  Well how about not!  Churches have chosen to take sides as well.  Leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton preach racial division picking and choosing causes to champion based off of their potential to line their pockets.  Marches, protest, and boycotts were promoted when a want-to-be thug was killed while beating a “white-Mexican Cracker”, yet an innocent 89 year old war hero is beaten to death and “no comment”.    


Where can a child go?  Where can they go to learn about respect?  Who will teach them moral behavior?  Unfortunately there are not many places a child can go.  This is the failure of my generation.  We took too much for granted and fell asleep at the wheel.  We did away with Corporal Punishment.  We gave kids trophies win or lose.  We made it too easy to advance through schools.  We made it too easy for people to get, and stay on welfare.  We handed out disability payments like they were candy.  We vanquished the American Dream with the housing crisis.  We, the nameless generation, made this mess.  Now we must suffer the consequences.  We no longer honor hard work; it is the cheaters that get a head.  If we want to correct our errs, we have a lot of work to do, and it must start with a long hard look in the mirror.


Do you truly want change?  Do you want our country to succeed?  I challenge you to make a difference.  Don’t allow you neighbor’s children to call you by your first name!  Make them call you Mr. or Mrs.  Tell them to make eye contact with you when they speak to you.  Tell them to use Sir or Ma’am when addressing you.  Teach them to respect each other, teach them to respect elders, teach them proper behavior.  


Why is it a man who dug himself out of poverty to become a world renowned surgeon (Dr. Ben Carter) is called an Uncle Tom?   We should honor and praise people like Dr. Carter.  Our younger generation cares more about Jay-Z and Beyonce.  Why do we allow derogatory comments towards women, gays, and various religious groups?   We should be appalled when the word “bitch” is spoken towards another human being.  We have grown too accustom to putting each other down and the result is that our children fell it is acceptable behavior.  Take a stance; make a promise to correct someone if they use foul language towards another.  It is about respect!


Take a second tonight, close your eyes and put yourself in the eyes of Christopher Lane’s family.  They will never be able to see their son, their friend, their companion again.  Now think about Delbert Belton, a man, a hero, that survived the invasion of Okinawa, only to beaten like a stray dog in the country he fought so bravely to defend.   Now think about the 15 other people that were murdered during that moment.  Make a pledge; make a statement, MAKE A DIFERENCE!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New ways of learning...

The power and the importance of play...this is an amazing video that gets right to the root of how our youngest generation learns.  So much going on in this video that hits home.  Every educator should watch this one.  

Back to School!

So I was not able to secure a full time teaching position, at least not yet, so I am doing the next best thing, I am taking courses to enrich my teaching abilities.  I am attending Eastern Florida (formerly Brevard Community College) and my declared major is Computer Technology.  I am taking two courses in residence and two courses online.    I am taking Speech and Intro to Micro-Computer Technology in residence and Keyboarding and Intro to Computers online. 


My first class, Intro to Micro-Computers, was Monday.  I was early to the class and I did what I always do, and scoped out the class.  The instructor claims to have 40 years of computer experience, so I look forward to gaining some valuable knowledge thru her tutelage.  I am one of the oldest in the class, but not THE oldest.  There is a nice balance of young and old in the class which should lead to some interesting dialog throughout the class. 


The class began with the instructor professing her distain for cell phones.  She does not want cell phones to be seen much less used.  She also does not want students using the computers while she is lecturing.  This is interesting being this is a computer class, and will no doubt require interaction with the computer later down the line.  One serious omission I noticed was that the instructor failed to do any type of ice-breaker.  The class simply proceeded after her introduction.  Ice Breakers, especially during a college class, serve to break the tension and help bring the class together.  I am not sure if this was an intentional calculation or if it was something she forgot about.  In either case, hope she corrects the omission in the next class.


The instructor definitely uses a teacher centered approach and relies solely on lecture for instruction.  I understand this is a college class where the dynamic is different from an Elementary School Class, however at least make an attempt to involve the class.  As the class proceeded you could almost feel the oxygen flowing out of the class.  While discipline will not be an issue, as we are all adults, class participation will become an issue.  There are 25 minds in this class, gaining information from each student will help with the classroom dynamic.


The course itself seems to be interesting and will cover the finer points of the MS Office 2013 programs.  The course s run through Pearson Labs and done almost exclusively online.  You submit your work for grading through a web based program.  I am honestly looking forward to proceeding and hope to be able to share some of the tips I learn. 


Next class is Speech tonight…can’t wait!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is our formal, upper level education system part of the problem?

Took some time off, but I'm back now inspired and ready to move ahead!

Inspired by all the technology for education I have discovered through Twitter and social media, I decided to take a college course titled “Introduction to Technology for Teachers”.  While hind sight is always 20/20, I should have looked into the class a little more before attending.

I anticipated being introduced to things like Class Dojo, Live Folders, Google Plus, or even Twitter. To my dismay the course included nothing of the kind.  I was taught about Power Point, how to build a newsletter and a teacher webpage.  I was introduced to Web Quest and C-Palms, but nothing new.  This college level course really did nothing for me, and I was sadly disappointed.  This class failed to introduce me to anything I would call extremely useful.   

The failure of this class leads me to poses a question;  Is our formal, upper level education system part of the problem?  I took this college level course in hopes of being introduced to revolutionary new products and programs to help me in the classroom.  Instead I was shown the finer points of programs that have been in use for a decade.   So then, how can educators be expected to be “cutting edge” when our formal education systems haven’t caught up yet?

While pondering that question, I have another for you; it is the responsibility of primary educators to prepare our children for college and beyond, shouldn’t our colleges provide educators with the best tools available to do this?  In my class I was shown how to use Power Point.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned some new things about the program, but I feel Power Point is yesterday’s news.  So where do we turn to get up-to-date?

Personally I have learned more from links provided by those I follow on Twitter.  I have been introduced to some amazing programs such as Remind 101, Class Dojo, and We Video (along with countless others) through links on Twitter.  I have watched videos about using Green Screens to make videos, and sharing Google Docs through contacts on Twitter.  In my one month on Twitter (for free) I have learned more than in my 12 week class (that I paid $325 for).

Our education system is at a crossroads.  We must learn to adapt to the changing world.  We have technology available to us that we would have never dreamed of ten years ago.  Technology will continue to improve and will not wait for our education system to catch-up.  Refuse to accept the status quo!  If your administrators give you grief, show them technology’s potential.   Get ahead of the curve, your students will thank you for it.  Many fear that educators will, in the very near future, no longer be required.  Children can (and will) learn everything they need to know in the comfort of their own home through the internet.  Is that what is best?  Is that what we want? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sequestration Effects: 59 Percent of Districts Cut Professional Development

While the article blames sequestration, it is actually unabated spending over the last decade that has cause the funding shortages...

Sequestration Effects: 59 Percent of Districts Cut Professional Development

Not claming up...PART 1

Well it does not look like I will be getting a permanent teaching position this year, but that’s OK, it is simply a stumbling block along the path.  On the bright side I have lots of time to develop things like lesson plans.

Feeding off my daughter’s love of marine biology, I began my focus in the marine area.  I found a wonderful website (Coast Website) that has preformatted lesson plans for many different areas of science.  On the Coast Website, I found a lesson plan that involves observing clams.  The lesson has students observing live clams in different sediments such as mud, rock, sand, and silt. 

While the lesson plan is very in-depth and well written I would like to enhance it a little.  More to come...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

10 Reasons Why I Should I Hire You by @BCurrie5

Wish I had Jeff as a hiring authority in our district...

10 Reasons Why I Should I Hire You by @BCurrie5

Scaffolding Teaching Strategies

So I’m reading “Teach like a Pirate” (good book) and I come to the chapter where the author, Dave Burgess, starts to breakdown his teaching strategies.  The chapter opens with a statement; “you’ve probably learned about scaffolding and SDAIE strategies” (Teach like a Pirate, Dave Burgess).  SRRREEETTTCCCCCHHHH…wait what?  Um no, I have never learned about scaffolding strategies.

This is one thing I am quickly finding out about education, you can (and will) never stop learning.  So I did what any self-respecting teacher would do, and did a Google Search.  I found out that “Scaffolding” is as it sounds; an external structure meant to provide support to the student, and then gradually removed when no longer needed.  There are other names for this strategy, such as Zone of Proximal Development.  ZPD is defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978).  Some methods for executing the scaffolding strategy are exploring prior knowledge, time to talk, pre-teaching, using visual aids, pause-ask-pause-review, and show and tell.    

Ok, so now I have some background information, now I can put it into practice. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Who is your champion?

Education is simply the soul
of a society as it passes from
one generation to another.
-           Gilbert K. Chesterton
 Ok folks, this quote is insightful, but it does not mean that we should pass down the same educational tools and methods from one generation to another.  Times are changing, technology is growing at a record pace, and our children are becoming smarter and smarter.  In order to provide them with the best possible education, we as educators must update our methods.  Stop and think; some of the children we are teaching today will be living on the Moon and possibly Mars.  Are we preparing them for this? 
So what does this mean?  So how do we catch up?  The answer lies with technology, but of course this is easier said than done.  By some accounts technology becomes obsolete every 18 months.  This means that the Apps, programs, and hardware we purchase today, will be obsolete by the end of the next school year.  This presents a dilemma for schools as they struggle for funding as it is.  Purchasing new laptops or I pads every other year is simply out of the question.
The solution will ultimately be the creativity of teachers.  Even today, as most schools are not able to convert to 1:1 I pads teachers’ must come up with creative ways to provide their students with proper access.  These “Education Technology Champions” can be found nationwide.  They refuse to except the status quo and simply do the best with what they have.  Need a champion?  Get into Twitter…they are all over the place and very willing to help! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The interview...part II

The interview part II…

Well that was easy.  Is it a bad thing that I have gotten so good at interviewing?  I feel like I can answer the questions before they even leave the interviewers lips?  Where do I see myself in five years you say? Let me break it down for you.   So anyway, the interview went well, but I am not holding my breath.

One of the questions I was asked is how I would differentiate my classroom?   You see not every student learns the same, and setting up your classroom to compensate for this is extremely important.   This is the first time I have been asked directly about differentiating the classroom.  Normally the question is tied in with a particular subject like math or reading.  This time it was simply stated “how would you differentiate your classroom?”

I was a little taken back by the question, and thus I struggled to come up with an answer.   I stated that I would present my lessons in different forms, each set up for the different styles of learners.  Visual lessons, kinesthetic lessons, and auditory lessons, each “learning style” would be accommodated.   So basically, I just repeated the question. Minus ten points on that one!

You see if it was for a reading lesson I would have answered more in-depth.   I have a prepared answer that basically states that I would have students read aloud in groups, and then I would have the more visual learners draw a picture expressing their comprehension, the auditory learners could express their comprehension vocally, and the kinesthetic learners could act out what the learned.  But for some reason I could not come up with an answer for the entire classroom. 

So I came back and did a little research.  Here is what I SHOULD have said:   “I would first analyze the class; perhaps conduct some informal assessments to gauge levels of comprehension and styles of learning.  Discern which students prefer quiet and lower lighting, and create a section of the classroom for them. Determine which students learn best by hearing information, seeing information and concrete examples, or by moving while learning.” 

Ok, so now I’m ready, bring on the next interview!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The 6th it the charm?

The interview…

So, tomorrow comes another one, another interview.  This one will be number 6; my sixth, and possibly last, interview.  So what am I going to do differently this time?  Flower-up my introduction?  Sell my life experiences a little more?  Talk about my love for technology and how I plan to integrate it into the classroom?

I feel like I’ve done well on my previous interviews, but obviously I am lacking in some areas.  Perhaps I scare the interviewers a little; maybe I come off a little too strong.  I love to instill my passion into the interview, but maybe that comes off as too aggressive.   I also try to discuss my love for the 21st Century Classroom.   Perhaps this hurts me a little simply because our district is a little behind the curve when it comes to integrating technology. 

Is it my age?  Does the fact that I am a 46 year old, first time teacher, scare away perspective employers?  Or perhaps I intimidate people a little because of my 22 years of military service?  I hope not, because I have no way of overcoming those shortcomings. 

Enough dwelling on the past; now it is time to focus on tomorrow.  I pledge to do nothing different!  If the interviewers are not sold on my passion and my vision I present in my interview, I will not change simply to get a slot.  I wear my passion on my sleeve, and if that is intimidating to some, so be it!  I am resolved to getting a position on my terms.  I worked hard to get to this point and I do not want to earn a teaching spot under false pretenses.     I love education and will eventually get a full time position, somewhere.   So look out Croton Elementary School HERE I COME!!!!

More Reading Please...

Color in the Classroom...

Reflection time!  Think back to your elementary school days.  Let us head back in the way back machine and take a gander at our kindergarten class.   What do you remember?  Ok hold that though.  Now grab a mental picture of your 1st grade classroom, again hold that image.  Do the same for your 2nd, 3rd, and so on. 

Ok imagine these mental images are on InstaGram and let’s compare them.  What do you notice?  What do they have in common?  Sure they all have desks, chalkboards, and teachers, but look deeper, look harder.  See it let?  No, ok I’ll tell you.  THERE IS NO COLOR!

Why is that?  According to the website in an article written by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas on “Vibrant colors attract the attention of young children, which is why toys for children under six are brightly colored. However, too much color can overstimulate a child. Balancing color in the classrooms is an important consideration when creating a balanced space for young students.”  This statement is important because it sets up parameters.  Classrooms should be vibrant, but not to the point where it becomes a distraction. 

                Greens are calm colors

                Blues can be used to symbolize peace, wisdom, and harmony

                Yellow and Orange are inviting, warm and happy

                Deep Blue is thought to induce creativity

While these colors and help set the mood of a classroom, it is not always easy to incorporate them into you classroom.  I don’t think your principle would appreciate walking into a classroom where the walls are painted bright orange.   However painting the trim around the doors, using colorful picture frames, and using brightly colored bulletin boards, can help incorporate color.  Being creative is in our nature and incorporating color into our classroom can go a long way towards creating a nurturing environment for our students. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Managing the classroom

            Managing the classroom is a skill that is a combination of a teacher’s knowledge, a student’s willingness to conform, and simple luck.  I stumbled upon this great quote that pretty much sums up classroom management, “no one pays attention to classroom management until it is missing” (Santrock, 2009, Pg 501).  A single student can disrupt an effectively managed classroom creating chaos.   Learning how to deal with these situations can make or break a teacher’s career.

            I present you with a scenario: Adam, an attention starved student is acting out in Mr. Potter’s fourth grade class.  Adam is one of six children and more than likely does not get the attention he deserves at home.  When Adam feels neglected he seeks attention in the only way he knows how, and that is to stand out.  He must make his presence felt so he disrupts the class.  Adam craves attention, even if it is of the negative sort, and although Mr. Potter holds firm for a while, he finally lashes out at Adam.  Adam has achieved his goal.

            Adam is sent to the office due to his behavior, and much like his life at home, the office is a busy place making Adam feel right at home.  Adam chats it up it with anyone he can and is happy in this environment.  Shortly after completing his “punishment”, Adam is returned to his class where the cycle is repeated.  So what did Mr. Potter do wrong and how can he break the cycle?

            Mr. Porter was conducting this lesson in a permissive style of classroom management.  He was placing few demands on Adam and Adam was enjoying the freedom this style allows.  What Adam really needed was for Mr. Porter to take an authoritative style.  An authoritative style of classroom management is when a teacher presents the students with clear statements as to what is expected by the students and how they are expected to behave.  Adam was allowed to carry on with his disruptive behavior and Adam did not understand where Mr. Porter stood on this behavior.  As this behavior went on un-checked Adam only thought it was allowable.

            Adam was simply crying out for attention, if Mr. Potter disciplined him when he first acted out the problem would not have gotten out of control.  According to Dr. Thomas Phelan in his article Teaching Style and Classroom Management “the authoritative teacher is ideal, though this approach is easier said than done” (Phelan, 2011).  Dr. Phelan goes on to say that an authoritative teacher establishes a supportive, yet business like relationship with their students.  This approach energizes both the students and the teacher and creates a safe and capable environment for the students. (Phelan, 2011)

            Perhaps the outcome of Mr. Potter’s actions or in-actions if you will can best be laid out by looking at the Kounin Model of Discipline.   This model states that classroom behavior depends on effective management to include individual accountability.   In Kounin’s model, Mr. Porter, or the witness, needs to be in control of all areas of their classroom.   Perhaps, Mr. Porter failed to keep the class busy and that was one reason Adam acted out.  We are not really shown what the root of the problem was just what the outcome was. 

            In accordance with Kounin’s model Mr. Porter failed to correct Adam’s inappropriate behavior when it occurred, hence the situation escalated out of control.  While I am sure it was not Adam’s intent to disrupt the entire classroom, he simply wanted attention.   On the surface it appears that Adam’s actions were responsible for this escalation.    While that holds true on the surface, it was the failure of Mr. Porter to control the situation early that allowed for the escalation and until Mr. Porter addresses the problem accordingly this behavior will continue.

             While it is obvious Adam was crying out for attention, the classroom dilemma it caused was preventable.  Had Mr. Porter managed his classroom in more of an authoritative style Adam would have known that his behavior would not have been tolerated.  Additionally if Mr. Porter had followed Kouinin’s Model for Effective Classroom management, the issues would have been addresses right away and would not have escalated the way they did.  With a few adjustments to how Mr. Porter manages his classroom he can become a more effective educator and present his students with a better learning environment.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Can We Learn From Failure? - Finding Common Ground - Education Week

What Can We Learn From Failure? - Finding Common Ground - Education Week

Insightful read...

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 5 tips for starting BYOD in your district#edtech#edtech

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: 5 tips for starting BYOD in your district#edtech#edtech


How Did You Know That?

So I was reading How Did You Know That?, an essay by Bonnie Sheryl Kimmel on learning styles.  About mid way through the easy I came across a statement that pretty much sums up what we the importance this essay holds for teachers.  Kimmel says in her essay “that learning occurs both with and without awareness”.  Simple, yet profound.  Much like the child learns not to touch a hot object by toughing a hot object, the brain is always in learning mode.  The key to a well balanced brain based learning experience is to understand the difference between having an implicit versus explicit goal.  Having either can challenge the brain in different ways, but too much of both can over load the brain and no worth while learning will occur. So how do we make the most effective use of goals (or assessments) in a brain based learning curriculum?   

Implicit learning means that with implied goals or objectives while explicit learning is more specific and structured.  Studies have shown that implicated learning allows the brain to explore more than just write and wrong answers and may be better suited for brain based assessments.  While this is not true 100% of the time, it seems that implicit learning is the most conducive.   That being said the paradigm of structured testing in schools would need to be broken.  Implicit learning does not always have a right and wrong answer.  So how can you grade a student?  That is the million dollar question and possibly the reason that brain based learning is not more popular. 

So is that a good enough reason to stop perusing brain based learning programs. No, but it does need to be addressed.  As I sated earlier, the paradigm that goes along with testing to determine a grade is the way schooling has been conducted since the beginning of time.  The power of the brain is still unknown and until we change the methods of teaching and how learning is conducted we may never know the brains true potential.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

Life of an Educator by Justin Tarte: Do nothing, say nothing, be nothing...

Teach like a pirate...

After reading such great reviews, I finally decided to download and read Dave Burgess’ Teach like a Pirate.  Last night I dove in feet first and, while I haven’t gone out and purchased my pirate costume yet, I already am getting benefits from the book.


While I am only a few chapters into the book, I am quickly finding it very insightful.  The importance of passion in teaching can never be understated and it seems Mr. Burgess has mastered the skill.  “A lifeguard sits above the action and supervises the pool deck.  Although he is focused, there is a distinct sense of separateness both physically and mentally.  In contrast, a swimmer is out participating and an integral part of the action” (Burgess, 2012).  What a profound statement.  It is the swimmers that have more influence of the events going on in the pool; while the lifeguard watches over the events, the swimmers have the fun.


“The teachable moment is called that because if you wait it will be gone!  It’s OK to surrender your structure in the pursuit of something far more valuable in the moment” (Burgess, 2012).   All too often, as teachers, we get wrapped up in the lesson and fail to pursue those teachable moments.  Getting off track can be frustrating, especially when preparing for those wonderful “assessments”, but getting off track can lead to wonderful experiences.   Off the cuff learning can peak the students interest and increase class moral.  It can also serve to build trust in your class, and I think we all know the value of trust.


And finally I leave you with this gem, “ultimately, we don’t want to develop techniques to win behavior management battles, we want to develop techniques that allow us to avoid the battles altogether” (Burgess, 2012).  Wow, is all I can say to this one.  How prophetic is that!  Again trust that you built during your daily sessions pays dividends.  Working hard from day one, building trust and rapport with your students will ultimately lead to bigger and better things,


Ok, well it’s off to dive back into the book…more to come!   

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bring Lincoln into your Classroom....

I just finished the Book “Lincoln on Leadership” by Donald T. Phillips.  The book was amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone.  Even though the book is geared towards the business community it translates well into any occupation.   The book is broken down into 15 chapters, each based off of a basic Lincoln principle. 
                1. Get out of the office and circulate among the troops
                2. Build strong alliances
                3. Persuade rather than coerce
                4. Honesty and integrity are the best policies
                5. Never act out of vengeance or spite
                6. Have the courage to handle unjust criticism
                7. Be a master of paradox
                8. Exercise a strong hand - be decisive
                9. Lead by being led
                10. Set goals and be results oriented
                11. Keep searching until you find your "Grant"
                12. Encourage innovation
                13. Master the art of public speaking
                14. Influence people through conversation and storytelling
                15. Preach a vision and continually reaffirm it 
I have always admired Lincoln, and this book solidified my perception of him.   He was an amazing leader that valued the relationships he held with his people.  He was an effective leader who allowed his trusted leaders to fail and helped them to recover.  He handled stress well and never let his subordinates see him under duress.  To help deal with stress, Lincoln would write letters to people that made mistakes.  He would explain his displeasure and tell them what he expected.  Then he would seal the letter and place it in a cabinet drawer, never sending it.  
Lincoln’s philosophy on leadership was to be lead by being led.    He would often “lead” his Generals by allowing them to make their own decisions.   He supported them after failures and he heaped praise on them when they succeeded.    What an amazing concept and one that we should all carry through to the classroom. 
Overall, the book was amazing, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  I leave you with this quote, which demonstrates the prophetic view Lincoln held.
In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
                                                                               -- Abraham Lincoln