Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A short conversation with...Justin Tarte @justintarte

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.

Justin Tarte

How long have you been teaching?

I am in my 6th year of teaching German 2 and German 3. As much as I love teaching and the classroom interactions with kids, I am actively pursuing an administrative position in an effort to positively affect the lives of not just my students, but rather an entire student body.

Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Yes. When I first started teaching I was very focused on what I was doing as the teacher. I would go home and evaluate the resources I was using in class...I would think about ways I could make better and more effective assessments...I was spending way too much time thinking about what I was doing, rather than focusing on how the students were performing and responding to what I was doing. My educational philosophy has shifted from me, the educator, to the students with whom I am interacting. I am not saying self-reflection is not important, but I have definitely seen an improvement with my instructional practices as I have focused more on what my students are doing, rather than what I am doing.

Additionally, I have really started to empower and encourage my students to take control of their learning. By providing my students the autonomy and the opportunities to explore, discover, and learn on their own, they are able to follow their interests and passions. Similarly to my first point, my focus has shifted from what I want my students to learn, to allowing them to learn what they are interested in.

If so, what led to this change? Was it a gradual process or a specific event?

This change has been a gradual change, and by no means is the change finished. I am continually evolving as an educator, and I think it is crucial that we are continuously evaluating our philosophy of education. One of my favorite quotes by Bruce Barton says it perfectly; “When you are through changing, you are through.”

If I could narrow this change to one specific event I would say it was when I decided I wanted to be an administrator. Administrators by nature are required to think on a much broader scale, and as such it requires more reflection and more time spent recognizing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. This bigger picture thinking has enhanced my growth and development as an educator.

Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?

Twitter has played a tremendous role in my growth and development as an educator. I am a huge proponent of professional development, and through the use of Twitter I have been able to expand traditional PD from something that happens a few times a year, to something that happens 24/7. Twitter has also connected me with great educators from around the world, which has given me a much broader perspective when it comes to sharing and collaborating with others. In my short 6 years as an educator, Twitter has been the most influential to my growth and development.

Justin's Blog

1 comment:

  1. "I was spending way too much time thinking about what I was doing, rather than focusing on how the students were performing and responding to what I was doing."

    Justin, I really like the point you make here. In the end, it is really about the educational experience for the students. As long as the students had the experience (how ever you define this) you wanted them to have, who cares if it the way you got there wasn't perfect in your eyes? I think many teachers (especially new ones) spend too much time over analyzing and unnecessarily tweaking.