Monday, February 28, 2011

BOOM! A short conversation with...Chris Wejr @mrwejr

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.


Chris Wejr

How long have you been teaching?

This is my 12th year of teaching. I began as a secondary school physical education/math/science teacher and then moved into elementary administration 4 years ago. As an administrator, I believe it is important to continue to teach; this year, I teach grade 3 reading.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

My philosophies have significantly changed. When I first began teaching, relationships with students were very important but I was someone who taught like I was taught and just blended in with the system. I punished and rewarded students for academics and behaviours (using grades, prizes, detentions, late marks, etc), desks were often in rows, homework was always given, assessment was mainly summative, and most of my teaching was standardized (not differentiated). Why did I teach this way? That is how I was taught, how my practicum sponsor teachers taught, and how many of my colleagues taught.


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

After I started to gain confidence as a teacher, I began to reflect on how to best motivate kids. I noticed that what I was doing as a volleyball coach was working and began to bring those strategies into the classroom. More descriptive feedback, less focus on results, more collaborative activities, and less reliance on rewards and punishment. At that point I was taking baby steps; significant changes happened through educational conversations that took place during my Master’s of Education coursework. Through this program, I became much more reflective and began to question my pedagogy as well as the structures of our education system. People like Nel Noddings, Maxine Greene, Michel Foucault, Alfie Kohn, Kieren Egan, and Sir Ken Robinson filled my mind with reflective questions about the way we teach our kids. When I became a vice principal, I had the privilege of working with a principal that had a strength-based leadership style that encouraged me to focus on intrinsic motivation. She continually challenged me to see the positive attributes in people and focus on their strengths, rather than their deficits. So this has been a gradual process over the past 5 years that has lead me to have a strength-based, passion-driven philosophy of education.


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

When I completed my Master’s program in 2008, those reflective educational conversations with peers and professors were lacking in my life. A friend (@kyegrace), who is a leader in social marketing, encouraged me to try Twitter and blogging to try to develop connections with other reflective educators. Two years later, I have seen my passion fueled by educators around the world who continually challenge and support me in my views on education. To be completely honest, without the support of my PLN on Twitter, I would not be the educator I am today. These connections have helped to develop both professional and personal relationships that make every day that much better! My educational mentors are now not only educators in my district but also parents, teachers, and admin from around the globe.

Chris' Blog

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"'Against the Wind' by Bob Seger"

I've always identified with the song Against the Wind, the namesake of my blog. This song by Bob Seger is, indeed, one of my favorite. As noted in the side bar of this blog, I chose the title Against the Wind to symbolize the struggle I have within myself. That struggle is simply challenging the way I thought a teacher should be. Indeed, "The biggest obstacle to school change is our memories."

I have never posted this beautiful song on my blog. I found this great cover today on youtube of Seger's classic song. Here it is-- Enjoy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A short conversation with...Yoon Soo Lim @DoremiGirl

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.


Yoon Soo Lim

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching music for 10 years.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Yes! As a young new teacher, I was very sure about how to teach kids and what kids needed to be “taught”. Since then I’ve been learning to strip away those agendas. I’ve learned to see that my mission is to love the kids who have been entrusted to me and to put their interest and passion at the center. I’m learning that I need to learn as much much more than I require my students everyday.


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

I don’t think it was a specific person or an event that changed me, but rather, positive influences of great teachers, their enthusiasm and belief that transforms me. I think I will continue to change as I learn. What I will continue to do is to do my part in reaching the next generation to think and learn with great joy and become stewards of their world.


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

Since joining Twitter (September, 2009), my view of the world has changed. I have come to know great teachers from all over the world who share their daily learning with me. They share amazing resources, blog their thoughts and engage in conversations with other teachers about learning and teaching. I have collaborated with many teachers, helping to connect our worlds for our students. My network - teachers who have also become my friends - has helped me to find joys in daily learning-sharing (I think I just created a new word). So I pay it forward by learning-sharing with new teachers on Twitter and non-tweeting teachers everywhere else!

Twitter: @DoremiGirl
Blog: http://singimagination.wordpress.com

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal

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.


Eric Sheninger

How long have you been teaching?

I have been in education for 11 years of which I spent 5 as a teacher of science (Biology, Chemistry, Marine Biology, Ecology) and 6 as an Administrators (Director of Athletics, Vice Principal, Principal).


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

When I began teaching in 2000 I was a firm believer that an effective learning environment emphasized traditional methodologies such as direct instruction, cooperative learning, and sound classroom management techniques. As far as science instruction went I found it paramount that learning activities were hands-on, relevant, and fostered critical thinking skills. Control was a central theme in my classroom as I thought that this was imperative in order to create a learning environment that met the needs of all of my learners.

Anyone that knows me now can attest to the fact that my philosophy has evolved in connection with changes in society, learners, and best practices. As a principal who focuses on instruction I feel that teachers need to be willing to give up control at times in order to unleash the creative juices of their students. The role of a teacher it that of a facilitator of learning as opposed to just a disseminator of content. Lessons and learning environments should be student-centered, flexible, effectively integrate technology, contain an authentic context, address multiple learning styles, and assess students in a variety of ways. Early on in my career I felt that failure was not an option and that by doing so I was letting my students down. This translated in a lack of risk taking on my behalf to pursue innovative ideas. I now feel that taking risks to improve student achievement and spur innovation are essential if we are to change educational systems for the better. Failing is inherit in this process, but it is ok if we learn from it.


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

I would say that this change has been a gradual process as I have grown as an educator. If I could pinpoint a specific turning point it would have to be March of 2009. It was at this time that I decided to give Twitter a try as a way to communicate with stakeholders in my District. After lurking and learning for a while I discovered this vibrant community of passionate educators committed to a student-first philosophy. I think the rest is history.

Eric's Blog

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Twitter changed everything for me.


Pre-twitter: I felt isolated because at times no peer could relate to specific teaching issues.
With Twitter I find people with similar teaching issues. I feel isolated no more.

Pre-Twitter: I might be the only one with a specific mind-set on an issue.
With Twitter I seek out those with a similar mind-set.

Pre-Twitter: My educational relationships were built within the building I worked.
With Twitter I build relationships not only within my building but with educators worldwide.

Pre-Twitter: At times I found it difficult to find answers to specific questions.
With Twitter I can ask and have several answers almost immediately.

Pre-Twitter: My PD was done on specific days of the year.
With Twitter PD happens daily.

Pre-Twitter: My education mind-set was slow to change.
With Twitter my thinking is challenged and pushed constantly. (Thanks to Jabiz Raisdana @intrepidteacher and Justin Stortz@newfirewithin for pointing this out.)

A Short Conversation with...Jerrid Kruse @jerridkruse

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.


Jerrid Kruse

How long have you been teaching?

The answer depends on what you consider “teaching”. I first started working as a laboratory assistant in 2000 at my undergraduate institution. I also did some tutoring of high school students in chemistry during this time. When I graduated from undergrad in 2002, I started in a PhD program in Chemistry. During the 2 years I spent in this program I was a laboratory instructor and a recitation (kind of a mini-lecture) instructor. Then I switched to a Master of Teaching (MAT) degree and continued to serve as a lab instructor in the Chemistry Department. This was a great opportunity because I was able to try out all the things I was learning in my methods courses in real time. I didn’t have to wait until student teaching to put the ideas into practice, I usually tried new ideas the next week in lab or recitation. After graduating with my MAT, I became a middle/high school teacher in an affluent, medium sized, midwestern town. In this first position I taught 7th grade general science, 9th grade physical science and 12th grade advanced chemistry. I was then offered to return to graduate school to work on a grant and pursue my PhD in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in science education. I spent a year on campus taking class and collecting data for my dissertation. Importantly, I also was teaching and assisting classes for preservice teachers. After this year, I found a teaching position at a school that was very different on paper from my first school. This second school’s students were culturally and economically diverse. My two years at this second k-12 position allowed me to really grow as an educator. Now I am in my first year as a university professor teaching preservice teachers in the school of education and even one laboratory section in the Chemistry Department. So, if you add it all up, I have been teaching others for almost 11 years.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Absolutely! People always told me I should be a teacher because I was good at explaining things to others. My first teaching (before my MAT) was mostly my attempt to come up with better and better explanations for things. During my MAT, I came to understand that really good teaching is about helping others explain things. Good teachers don’t give great explanations, they help others construct the explanations. This notion hasn’t changed much, but continues to be refined. I constantly ask myself how I might better help my students think more deeply.


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

I somewhat alluded to this in my last response. Yet, my preservice program was excellent. Good teaching was consistently modeled in this program. Had I not witnessed this good teaching, I am unsure I would have become the teacher I am today. For this reason, I work to consistently model good teaching in my own methods courses.


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

Yes and no. Twitter has not affected my philosophy of education much, but I don’t want to dismiss the power of my twitter interactions. I think where twitter has helped me is when I want to do X, I can ask people how to do X and I get some really good ideas and resources.

Jerrid's Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Shannon Smith @shannoninottawa

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.


Shannon Smith

How long have you been teaching?

I began teaching in 1998. I taught high school English and Special Education in Ottawa and Toronto and then took an extended leave to be home with my two children until they entered Kindergarten. I have been back in school for 4 years -- 1 1/2 of which were as a special education teacher and 2 1/2 as a vice principal in the elementary panel.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Yes. My educational philosophy has evolved over the years as I have been exposed to diverse experiences. While a deep commitment to students remains the foundation in which my educational philosophy is grounded, it is constantly being refined as I reflect on experiences, asking myself, “What did I learn today?”


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

There are many specific events and people who who have had a tremendous impact on my philosophy. Any struggle provides plentiful learning opportunities, so it would be accurate to say that students, staff and parents who challenged me the most, helped me grow and refine my philosophy. I approach situations from an appreciative inquiry perspective, always looking for the best of situations and people. I have the following quote from Michelangelo hanging above the door of my office, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”. Each time I leave my office, I am reminded that it is my work to create a school climate where everyone can be at their best.


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

The tool through which I reflect and refine my philosophy is my blog, shannoninottawa.com. Through Twitter, I have connected to educators across the globe. My PLN includes a variety of stakeholders in education - teachers, parents, trustees, superintendents, principals, instructional coaches and others - who share my passion for learning, but whose experiences and philosophies are diverse. As well as engaging in conversations via twitter, members of my PLN drop by my blog to leave comments, many of which push my thinking on issues and ask me to continue growing and learning.

As well, I make time to visit the blogs where members of my PLN share their thoughts on a wide cross-section of issues around education. Reading what others have to say and joining in the conversations via the comments provides yet another opportunity for me to engage in learning on an ongoing basis.

Finally, the intermediate level students at my school publish their writing to our blog - thewritingisonthewall.edublogs.org. When my students post to the blog, I often send out a tweet using the hashtag #comments4kids to ask members of my PLN to visit the blog and encourage these young writers by leaving a comment. I believe that connecting my students to a global community of knowledge and experiences is one of my main responsibilities as a lead learner in my school community.

Shannon's Blog

Monday, February 21, 2011

10 Things I Wish I had Never Learned about Teaching


Inspired by 10 Things You Wish You Had Never Learned, I decided to make a similar list for teaching. A little change of the title and a new list and here you go:

10 Things I Wish I Never Learned about teaching:



1. I wish I had never learned that the class must always be quiet.

2. I wish I had never learned that a student’s learning and understanding was based on his/her test scores.

3. I wish I had never learned that rewards and punishments have to be used in class to control students.

4. I wish I had never learned that a “good” teacher controls his/her students.

5. I wish I had never learned that the teacher never admits when he/she is wrong.

6. I wish I had never learned that a teacher never smiles before Christmas.

7. I wish I had never learned that a teacher lectures at the front of the class.

8. I wish I had never learned that a student should always stay in his/her seat.

9. I wish I had never learned that school was not a place for fun.

10. I wish I had never learned that, “this class is not a democracy; It is a dictatorship.”

A Short Conversation with...Richard Byrne @rmbyrne

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.


Richard Byrne

How long have you been teaching?

I got my first full-time teaching position in January 2004 teaching a ninth grade language arts class (a job I felt under qualified to do, but I was willing to try). In January 2005 I took a semester position as a computer lab/ writing lab instructor. In August 2005 I started the social studies teaching position I have now. Prior to working in public schools I worked for FedEx for seven years in various management roles including training coordinator.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Yes.

When I started teaching I had a very teacher-centric mindset. I was convinced that if I made what I thought were good lesson plans, the students would learn what I was trying to teach them. There was a lot of “sage on the stage” lesson plans when I started. The classroom was very quiet.

Now there are very few times when my lesson plan calls for a “sage on stage.” I now layout for students the essential questions as dictated by district administration and work with students to acquire knowledge they can use to address those questions. In some cases my “lesson plan” for the day might be as simple as discussing with students their research findings or working with them to develop mind maps or webs. If you walk by my classroom today, it’s often full of chatter from student groups working together.

The other thing I’ve learned and that no one told me when I was taking my certification courses is that some of my students come to class hungry, tired, feeling neglected (even if they don’t articulate it that way) or unsure of where they will be sleeping that night. In those cases, if I don’t help them deal with those issues first, I will have a really hard time addressing the curriculum standards with them. In other words, I’ve learned that I teach students first, not social studies first.


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

The changes outlined above occurred gradually. I didn’t even realize it was happening until I was asked to reflect upon it in the fall of 2007.


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

Yes, Twitter has played a role in my evolution as a teacher. How much? That changes based on how much I’ve been on Twitter at the time I’m asked. Most of the people (for a while I auto-followed everyone that followed me) I follow on Twitter provide me with food for thought. I have some lists of people who are always politely pushing new conversations forward. If you check my Twitter lists you can find the people I interact with the most.

Richard's Blog

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Debbie Birchett @debbie_birchett

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.


Debbie Birchett

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 13yrs. I received my Bachelors in Special Education in 1997. My first placement was outside of Washington, DC and this placement has impacted my life as a teacher tremendously. I had the greatest mentor and the strongest administration any new teacher could have asked for; my students were diverse, had a variety of disabilities and their needs helped me to build my skill set.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Absolutely! I believe that if you have been teaching for a number of years and your philosophy hasn’t changed, you are not truly open to being a learner as a teacher. My philosophy was a bit vague; it was based on my innocence and fresh ideas. I believe I’m more realistic now and use my experiences to evolve my philosophy. My fresh ideas will never go away though!


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

I’d like to say that it has been ever growing and adapting to what I have learned as a teacher and a student. I have had the opportunity to spend my years teaching in three different districts. These experiences have all been very different and each one has modified, not only my ideas, but my teaching style as well. I think the event that had the greatest impact was moving from the Washington, DC area to North Carolina. Not only the cultural differences, but I have had the opportunity to teach in a one-to-one learning environment. Teaching in a 21st century learning environment has greatly impacted my educational philosophy. The district has been adamant that every child has the ability to access a 21st century education; from laptop insurance scholarships to having loaners for students who have damaged equipment. This regard to equity among all students has had a tremendous impact.


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

Twitter has played a tremendous role in my evolution as a teacher. It has allowed me to share with educators I would not have even had the opportunity to share information and strategies with otherwise. Networking with teachers globally allows me to “practice what I teach” with my students in regards to accessing information and sharing the learning that occurs around the world. Twitter allows educators to be 21st century learners and teachers!

Adding tabs and pages to Blogger

Recently it became necessary to add other pages to my blog in order organize similar themed posts. I came across this article by Quick Online Tips and decided to share it in a post. I have made a few changes to the original because their suggestions had a few kinks for me. Enjoy.

How to Create Pages and Tabs in Blogger

How can you create pages in Google Blogger blogging platform? Well Blogger introduced the ability to create pages in Blogger recently and now all bloggers can easily create pages.

Pages are a key way to highlight important information pages on your blog and are not published in the blog timeline. WordPress has long had pages and Blogger was lacking in this essential feature for a long time.

On your Blogger dashboard, go to Posting > Edit Pages > New Page


Note: Once you add a page don't forget to press Publish Post.


Create Blogger Pages

Unlike unlimited pages that you can create in WordPress, Blogger still lets you create only 10 pages, so you need to chose clearly which pages you want. Then if you need to insert pages in the layout, they have created a new gadget which you can use.

Go to Design > Add a Gadget under Navbar> Search for Pages Gadget

Add the gadget to the top of your page. You can change the order of links too. Note: If there is no Add a Gadget under the navbar available, try adding the Gadget to the sidebar instead.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Jana Scott Lindsay @Mollybmom

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.


Jana Scott Lindsay

How long have you been teaching?

This spring marks 18 years in the profession. In many ways, it feels like only yesterday that I convocated and began my journey as an educator.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Absolutely! I think the entire philosophy almost hinges on a constant evolution of learning and best practice. Each new year brings with it an new sets of challenges, opportunities, and obstacles to learn and grow from as an educator.


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

I feel fortunate that I have had so many varied teaching experiences and opportunities to learn from mentors, colleagues,and most importantly, my students over the years. Being a life long learner is a necessity when it comes to modelling a love of learning in the classroom. In a more current blog post I mentioned that “ some of the best learning I have ever been a part of has been when I have had the good sense to give up the driver's seat,” and that holds true for me even to today.


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

Collaborating globally with my professional learning community has had a dynamic and inspirational impact on myself as an teacher, not to mention as an individual Connecting with like minded educators everyday has given me permission to spread my wings. I am supported, challenged, and encouraged to be a risk-taker, a facilitator of authentic learning, a collaborator, a co-inquirer, and a questioner.

In taking time to ponder this last year in my life I feel empowered. For me it is about connectedness and knowing that I am a part of a community that will support me when the chips are down, and will celebrate wholeheartedly in my success. Amazing experiences have shaped my learning... amazing individuals, amazing endeavours.

Jana's Blog

Friday, February 18, 2011

Is what you are doing getting you what you want? 11 Questions (Far Side Comic Included)

1.Do you listen to your students?

2.Do you let them question decisions that you made without getting angry?

3.Were those decisions made without their input?

4.Were they made with student input?

5.Do you allow student input?

6.Do they follow you blindly without questioning?

7.Do you use coercion (threats or rewards)to get students to do what you want them to do?

8.Do you want your students to be like sheep?

9.Do you want them to stand up and think for themselves and become responsible learners?

10.Which sheep do you want them to become in the Far Side comic.

11.Is it really necessary to ask question 10?

A Short Conversation with...Jesse McLean @jmclean77

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.

Jesse McLean

How long have you been teaching?

8 years (9 if you count my practicum, which was a full year practicum)


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

In reviewing my educational philosophy as written on my resume, the first ⅔ of it has not changed... at all. I was surprised to see that it hadn’t, but I have always felt a strong commitment to honesty in my teaching. What I think is funny is that when I wrote my educational philosophy coming out of University I wrote about a need for commitment to the utilization of technology, I wrote about a need for differentiated instruction, I wrote about varied assessment, and I wrote about education occurring anywhere and any time. What I visualized then and what I see now when it comes to these areas are of course very different.

In the last ⅓ of my philosophy I wrote an additional statement that I introduce with,

“In addition, from my four years in alternate education...”

This ⅓ of my philosophy represents a huge change in my teaching that has had a lasting effect on me.


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

The change that came from teaching in an alternate environment wasn’t immediate due to a specific event, but it wasn’t all that gradual either. It happened over the course of my first year in alternate education and I would say was cemented by January or February that school year. Here is the statement from my resume:

Every student deserves the right to be treated with respect and given the chance to succeed. Too often students are labeled and discarded without us asking ourselves
“What is holding this student back? Why is this student acting out? Has anyone taken
the time to talk to this student and answer these questions?” Every effort should be
made to provide those challenged students with the support and modeling they require
to regain their direction. We can do this by taking the time to treat them with respect and provide them with stability and mentoring every school day.

Teaching in that setting with those students definitely changed more than my educational philosophy, it changed me as a person. I am a better communicator, a more compassionate educator, more resilient, more understanding and definitely more appreciative of all the wonderful people in my life.

Teaching in that situation and seeing what a student with very few positive interactions in their life is capable of when given a chance reminds me that our job as educators is an important one and we are blessed to have the opportunity. Now as an educator I know my job is to support our teachers and “clear the path” so that they are able to do the amazing work they do.


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

Well, as an administrator and teacher, yes. I only started using twitter in August and had just started my first year as an assistant principal. Twitter for me has opened my eyes to

a) 24 hour a day Professional development opportunities.

b) a community of educators to connect and share with.

c) a place for immediate support or answers to a question or for a resource when I need it.

In the honor of shameless self promotion I wrote about how twitter helps us continually learn and share the way we did in university in my blog post “That University Feeling”

http://jmclean77.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/that-university-feeling/

Here is the quote that applies to this question

“Well it was late this last August that George Couros, a man many of you know of quite well now because of things like blogs and Twitter, introduced ME to blogs and Twitter. It was that conversation and the subsequent 2 months of experiment, connection and collaboration that has once again brought me back to that “University Feeling”. I connect with so many passionate educators on a daily basis, discussing issues, sharing resources and stories, all because of this new-found connection to Social Media. I may not share a cup of coffee or University class with these people, but I do have the opportunity to hear their stories and ideas, to offer them mine, and together we share, we learn and we grow. I feel alive again, I feel I am once again learning and growing, and it energizes me as I go each day and ask the same from my students.”

I think that sums it up fairly well, any other questions just let me know.


Jesse's Blog

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Short Conversation with...George Couros @gcouros

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.



George Couros

How long have you been teaching?

I have been in education for 12 years. This is my fourth year as a school administrator and second as a principal.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

I have always been focused on relationships since I began teaching. I knew they were important but it was not until the last few years that I realized why they are important. The environment that you create in the classroom with your students is essential to them developing as learners. I really believe that when we start out as teachers we need to focus on these relationships as we gain experience.

The teachers that gain and learn from their experience while they still focus on relationships as the focal point are the ones that have the opportunity to become master teachers.


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

I actually had lost my passion for teaching about five years ago. I decided to try a new school and a change of scenery. I had an administrator that showed she believed in me and it meant everything. That belief led to me believing that I could do great things in school. My goal as an administrator is to continuously do the same thing for my students and staff.

This is not about false optimism, but it is about finding the gifts people bring and helping them share them with the world.


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

It has played a huge role. I have been exposed to some of the best ideas in education from all over the world and have had the opportunity to share these ideas with staff or use them myself. Although the ideas are greatly important, it is the connections that I have made with people that have mattered most. Meeting passionate educators from all over the world has inspired me to do better and has helped me to build more of a “tribe”. It is amazing to connect and learn from so many fantastic and passionate educators.

George's Blog

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Larry Ferlazzo @larryferlazzo

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.


Larry Ferlazzo

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.

Larry's Blog

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Jabiz Raisdana -- aka @intrepidteacher

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.

Jabiz Raisdana

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching since 1999; although I am not so sure you can call the first four years teaching. I was young and sill learning. I started my career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, Africa. Filled with an unrealistic idealism and passion I had very few skills when it came to helping students learn. After Africa, I was thrown into a high needs school in The Bronx and once again found myself searching for a voice to guide me through. Looking back, however, it was those first four years that really helped me become the teacher I am today. It was a sink or swim situation and I think I swam my way out pretty well.

Since then I have been honing my skills at various international schools worldwide. I have taught in Malaysia, Qatar, and now Indonesia. I have taught English, Social Studies, Geography, History, Humanities, Journalism, Drama, ESL and Global Issues from Kindergarten to twelfth grade. At heart, I would say I am an eight grade English teacher.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

At its core I would say that no, my philosophy has not changed much. I got into teaching because I want to help young people feel comfortable in their skin. I want to empower students and help them find their voice. I want to help create a cadre of young people who are confident, talented and educated who can help build a more sustainable, caring and peaceful world.

I believe in building communities of learners. I believe in free human dialogue and the wanderings of agile minds. I believe in trust and inspiring students and providing them with the academic and social skills that will enable them to fulfill their human potential as responsible global citizens. You can read more of my philosophy here.

Has my philosophy changed since I started. I hope so. It is impossible not to evolve as teachers or as human beings.


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

I think experience has helped me grow. I have taught in different environments, subjects and age groups, each with their own successes and challenges. I hope that my philosophy of education will continue to remain malleable and forever influx. I think once you become too comfortable with one way of thinking you either need to be open to a new direction or enhancement, or get out of the game.

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

Yes of course! Twitter has helped connected me with like-minded educators from around the world. This community has helped me by giving me feedback, pushing back against ideas I may not have thought through or by simply giving me support and validation when I need it. In addition, I am able to connect with their journeys and see what they can teach me. Twitter is the single most important tool I use to connect and learn from educators throughout the world. It has helped me create some of the most important personal and professional relationships in my life.

If you are reading this, come find me- @intrepidteacher or www.jabizraisdana.com and let’s move forward together.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Short Conversation with Steven W. Anderson-- aka @web20classroom

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.

Steven W. Anderson

How long have you been teaching?

I have been in education for 9 years. I began as a Middle School Math/Science Teacher. After 5 years I left the classroom and was head of Instructional Technology for a local district. Recently I returned to the district I started my teaching to be a District Instructional Technologist where I take care of our Superintendent, Asst. Superintendent, Senior Leadership and all School-Based Administrators on their technology integration needs.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

I would say it has. I have always believed that if educators are not coming to school each for the purpose of doing everything possible for kids then they are in the wrong business. I have shifted my belief in leadership. At one time I thought that the only ones who could lead in a school were the administration or teachers who had been around for a while. What I have found is that there is leadership potential in everyone (including students). The key is to have those around us who are willing to take risks and put people in leadership positions where they can flourish.


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

When I started teaching I had no desire to have anything to do with leadership. I wanted to stay in my classroom and teach my kids. I had an administrator that saw things differently and felt that I had the potential to be better than I was. She put me in positions where I had to lead and worked with me over time to develop the leadership skills I was lacking. I credit my current position and success all back to her because without that person in my career to help me along my leadership journey I will still be stuck in my old ways of thinking.


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

Twitter definitely has had an impact on my evolution. When I started, I was looking for a simple way to share resources with my teachers who were spread across a very rural district. From there it grew to where I am today but through this sharing I have meet and worked with from all over the world. Sure, if I had not been exposed to Twitter I could do some of the same things I have done. However, social media has made it easier to connect and work with people. I have also gotten to do lots of traveling and talking to people that might have never been possible had I not used Twitter. But I think the most important thing is that through listening to and following lots of different people and keeping my blog I have been able to refine some of my ideas and work through many of my thoughts about education and teaching that might not have been possible. Twitter is the amazing medium through which I have the chance to meet and work with some of the most amazing minds and educators on the planet.

Steven's Blog

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Shelly S. Terrell

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.


Shelly S. Terrell

How long have you been teaching?

I received my first group of about 100 kids at my inner-city church in 1997. I was a sophomore in high school. Teaching these children who faced really painful situations taught me a lot about the educator I wanted to be. The goal wasn’t forcing facts down their throat. The goal was to provide these children with compassion and support their emotional and learning needs.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Bits of my educational philosophy always continue to expand but the foundations remain the same. I believe in being a guide versus a guru. I hope I inspire my students to desire to learn and continue their learning journeys for life. Also, I hope to plant in them the seeds of belief that they can achieve more than they came from.


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

I have always know children learn differently and each one has their own learning preferences. However, I never found a theory to support this or help me explore this until I encountered Rita Dunn’s Learning Styles Inventory research and theory. Rita Dunn believed that physical, psychological, physiological, and environmental factors should be considered when we think about how we optimally learn. Teachers can give a survey to students of any age who will be able to find out information about their learning style and the factors that impact this such as light, movement, time of day, and so forth. When I took the survey, I felt like a lightbulb went off!


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

Through Twitter I am able to collaborate and have continuous conversations with educators worldwide. It is motivating. I remember being stressed with the piles of work that come with our profession. I’m also one of those educators who notoriously brings my work home! Imagine, though, receiving a text message daily from some of your best friends saying what an inspiration you are and messages that inspire you to continue the teaching journey because in the end you are changing lives. This is Twitter! My friends, from all over the world, that I have met in several countries, continue to inspire me! I really appreciate them!


Shelly's Bio:

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is the VP of Educator Outreach for Parentella and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She is also the co-organizer and co-creator of the award nominated educational projects, Edchat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the Virtual Round Table conference. The New York Times learning blog has included her on its list of the top 78 educators to follow on Twitter. Visit her education blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, for resources for effective technology integration. In the fall of 2011 find her book, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators on Amazon. Find her on Twitter, @ShellTerrell. She also teaches young learners in Germany.

A few thoughts on BORING PD days.



I recently attended 2 days of training for Smartboard. What stood out about the training was not what I learned. What stood out was my disengagement.

Unfortunately, many experience PD days like this. They have to sit. They have to listen. They have to read a Powerpoint presentation while listening to the speaker read it at the same time. They have to listen to the speaker’s opinions and not share their own. They have to sit there disengaged. They even question the benefit of such an activity.

Wait! There is a benefit. It reminds me how multitudes of students feel every day the world over- disengaged. It is a reminder to never run a classroom like boring PD days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Short Conversation with...Pernille Ripp (@4thGrdTeach)

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.

Pernille Ripp

How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for 3 years so I am at the very beginning of hopefully a very long and exciting teaching journey.

Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

Not so much my philosophy because I have always believed in the power of children, what has changed though is how I teach! I had a complete change of heart over the summer as to my beliefs in homework, grades, rewards, feedback and the teaching process. I now aim for student-centered learning where the emphasis is on the students owning the learning and me just facilitating it. Students are no longer punished by me but rather supported through many conversations.

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

I realized that if continued teaching the way that was then I would burn out. I didn't like the teacher I was becoming and knew that I wouldn’t like being in my classroom as a student. Through reading Alfie Kohn, blogs and tweets I knew there were others like me and that gave me the courage to try these new philosophies.


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

Twitter has absolutely changed the way I function as an educator and how I develop professionally. Now I am not alone with my ideas that tend to go against the standard way of teaching and if I ever need inspiration, I know it is just a click away. I share twitter with anyone that will listen and hope to convert as many people as possible. I could never go back to my pre-twitter life.

Pernille's Blog

A Short Conversation with...John T. Spencer

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.

John T. Spencer

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching for seven years in an urban, low-income school district. I’ve taught seventh and eighth grade the entire time.


Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

I came in with a strong sense of social justice. I still have it, but I have a bit more nuance. I went from “teach kids to think well so that they can make a difference” to simply “teach kids to think well.” I’ve grown into paradox and I believe that we need to see a humble revolution. I know that sounds bizarre - humility and revolution. But we (including myself) need to listen more, be open to old and new perspectives and ultimately understand that teaching is almost always about paradox.


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

It has always been a gradual process combining specific incidents with philosophical reflection. For example, my belief that “less is more” came through a series of lessons. My belief that authenticity is paramount began with my own experiences with toxic learning environments. The changes were also a blend of both internal and external forces.


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

Not as much as I would have hoped. I like Twitter. I really do. However, Twitter has mostly been a tool to help me get to know fellow bloggers. Truly, it’s been the blogs that helped me evolve as a teacher. To me Twitter is the social hour that leads to deeper friendships. Blogs are the online version of a pint. (Too many and you’re drunk, but the right amount and it’s a beautiful thing).

John's Blog

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Short Conversation with... Peter Vogel

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. Hopefully, we will get to know them better.

Peter Vogel

How long have you been teaching?

30+

Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?

I’m not sure it has. I’ve always seen basic promise in every student. I do see many more demands on students’ time today and that inevitably is driving change in the nature and volume of at-home work.


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

Any change for me has been gradual, with the exception of my work with Twitter. I started on a summer day and never looked back. Although I am already passionate about the subjects I teach, the Twitter experience brought me passion for education as a whole.


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

Yes, I am much more passionate now about the “how” of teaching and also find I am fascinated by the innovation I see from teachers at the elementary level, as expressed in their tweets. Even though I teach at the grade 11/12 level it is the elementary-level followers in my PLN who are consistently interesting and supportive. However, I’m beginning to wonder if the online PLN is beginning to fizzle. In my own case I find that fewer and fewer question-containing tweets are being answered. Many times I wonder if my tweets are simply vanishing into the ether, having lived only briefly on my screen.

Peter's Blog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A few notable tweets from February 3-10, 2011



@tomwhitby: People need to understand that education and learning may be a common experience but that doesn't make everyone an expert. #edchat

@stumpteacher: We need to stop looking for THE "fix" and fix our own classrooms and schools. Learn from each other and Just Do It.#edchat

@stumpteacher:"Students will be motivated by learning if the activities are relevant, active, and collaborative." #edchat

@joe_bower: Most people's default is 2 defer 2 authority; in other words, admin need to go out of their way 2 nourish sharing & collaboration.

@JoAnnJ68: Student success also involves student choice. Parents & teachers need to allow this to happen #edchat

@mrlucero82: There is a danger in the affability and ease of efficiency that stifles creativity. The word "worksheet" comes to mind.

@sahlinvic: #catca we need to recognize that all children are different and we need to cultivate their creativity and talent! #sirken

@dmeharris: Do students have the opportunity to discover what they are good at and what they love? #catca #sirken

@d_martin05: We need to start asking students where their passions lie and build our lessons around that #edchat #sirken

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A few of my favorite Seth Godin Blog posts- part 1.

Thanks for leading

Quote from post: "It's uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
It's uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail."


 

The initiator    

Quote from post: "But initiating is rare and valuable and essential."


 

"I don't have any good ideas"

Quote from post: "It's your choice about whether or not you do anything with them [ideas], but please don't tell me you don't have any good ideas."


 

Validation is overrated

Quote from post: "If you have a book to write, write it. If you want to record an album, record it. No need to wait for someone in a cubicle halfway across the country to decide if you're worthy."


 

Do you need a permit?

Quote from post: "The accepted state is to be a cog. The preferred career is to follow the well-worn path, to read the instructions, to do what we're told. It's safer that way. Less responsibility. More people to blame."


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hey, where did you get that idea?



I started my blog in July of 2010. I don’t fear it won't be read. Most will not read it. I accept that. I don’t fear that people will disagree with me at times- they will. I accept that. What I fear is that I will have nothing to write. My ideas may dry up and the blog will die. If that happens does it mean I have no more room for growth? Perhaps. Does it mean I have cut myself off from new ideas? Maybe.

I often wonder where my fellow bloggers get their ideas for a new post. Mine come from what I read, my interactions from friends in Iqaluit, my students, conversations on Twitter, just to name a few.

What inspires your ideas?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

'Better the devil you know?'

UsingEnglish.com defines the idiom “Better the devil you know,” as follows:

“This is the shortened form of the full idiom, 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't', and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unknown person or thing.”

This clich√© is wrong. Why? What if the “devil” is better? How will you ever know if you don’t take a risk? If you have this attitude, nothing will ever change. Thinking this way is safe, but things will never improve.

Have you said the cliche in question? I have said it many times but now realize it only holds me back. It holds a lot of people back from accomplishing meaningful change and improvement.

Is this cliché and many like it stopping you from becoming your best?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Paying Homage

This post is a first for this blog: a guest post. Thanks to Joe Bower. He teaches grade 6 in Red Deer, Alberta. He blogs at For the Love of Learning and tweets here.

By Joe Bower

While I can see how some might take the desire to improve the education system as an attack on the system, I think it is far more productive to say that we believe in life long learning, so we know the system can always be better.

Romanticizing the past and invoking a defensive stance that pays homage to the system that groomed us will do little to ensure that our children get an even better education than we received.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Thoughts on Awards



Awards are intrinsic motivation killers.

Awards are collaborative destroyers.

Awards do not recognize the best in each person, only one.

Awards make us see each other as obstacles.

Awards are political.

Awards make all, except one, feel like losers.

Awards in schools don’t give people the choice to opt out of the competition.

Awards create anger and envy.

Awards create debate on who deserved to win.

And…

Cancelling awards ceremonies does not mean that students will lack understanding of their world outside of school.