Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A short conversation with...Jeremy Macdonald @MrMacnology

Jeremy Macdonald

How long have you been teaching?
This is my 5th year in the classroom. I also had the opportunity to work as an Instructional Technology Coach part time this year, but I am looking forward to going back full-time in the classroom next year.

Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
Like a lot of teachers I left college thinking one thing and through my experiences in the classroom I’ve began to shape that one thing, or philosophy, into something more meaningful and much less scripted. The more dramatic changes have come in the last two years of my career. I’ve been able to meet and learn from a lot of great educators that have challenged my thinking and pushed me to rethink my purpose as a teacher in the classroom. Students need more opportunities to create their own learning experiences. I try to be more of a guide through the process than the source of the information. By giving students opportunities to create, problem solve, and investigate, with peers and on their own, I hope to provide them with far more learning opportunities than their text book or my teacher’s manual intends to “teach”.

Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
The ability to connect and collaborate with thousands of educators blows my mind. Twitter has provided me opportunities as an educator that I don’t think I could have found on my own. The infinite resources and sometimes insightful debate allows me to reflect on my own practices and see what I can do differently to improve the learning experiences of my students. And what I love most is when I get to actually meet and break bread with so many of my PLN. As much as I love Twitter, that human connection is something that will endure.

What's the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
A couple years ago a veteran teacher was moved to our school for his last year of teaching before retiring. He was a gruff man and rather old-fashioned in his thoughts of teaching and learning. He didn’t put up with a whole lot in the classroom and most of his routines were regimented and military-like. I wasn’t a fan of his teaching or management or the way he spoke to students. We taught in the same grade and I worked with him quite a bit. Before the end of the school year, he took me aside and spoke with me for almost a good hour. During that conversation he told me to speak up. Not speak up, like talk louder, but to speak up in front of my peers and stand up for what I believed to be best for our school. It gave me that needed confidence that I had lacked for the first three years of teaching. I wasn’t always sure of myself or of what I was doing in the classroom. As I continue to learn, I feel a need to defend learning in the testing-infested pools we now swim in. I may have not learned much about how to be a teacher from him, but I did learn what it takes to believe in what I do.

Jeremy blogs here.

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