I recently discovered a website named Teachmeet New Jersey: Fresh Ideas for Education. The site introduces educators to its readers by conducting short interviews. I really like that idea so I asked a few people from my PLN to answer a few questions about education. Enjoy.
How long have you been teaching?
This is my seventh year teaching -- all of it at Luther Burbank, Sacramento’s largest inner-city high school. We have about 2,000 students, and the school is divided into seven Small Learning Communities (SLC’s). Three hundred students stay together with the same twenty teachers during their high school career, and each SLC is physically located together. It’s a great place where we emphasize the importance of developing relationships and developing life-long learners.
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
I had a twenty-year career as a community organizer prior to becoming a teacher, and I think I’ve become more and more sophisticated in applying what I learned during that period to my work in the classroom. Helping people motivate themselves, being more of an “agitator” (challenging people to act on what they say they want) as opposed to being an “irritator” (challenging people to act on what I say they should want), and being intentional about building relationships are just three “cross-over” strategies that I’ve had to apply somewhat differently.
Also, I think I was a pretty patient person prior to becoming a teacher. But I think I’ve become even more so now. It makes classroom management a lot less stressful.
If so, what led to this change? Was it a gradual process or a specific event?
Every year I think I’ve become a better teacher through working hard and learning from both my mistakes and successes. In organizing, we have a saying that it’s all about going out and making mistakes, coming back to reflect on them, and then going out and making bigger and more creative mistakes. I’d like to think I’ve had more hits than misses, but that philosophy encapsulates my perspective on life in general.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Twitter has certainly been a useful tool to connect with educators around the world, and I’ve learned, and will continue to learn, from many of them.