Personal Evidence Product Blog
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As an educator and teacher leader, I value a handful of tangible and abstract concepts within the realm of the typical school day.

Personally, I value my students. I would like to think that in my class they are in good hands when they enter my room. Each day is a new one. Whatever personal or private issues may be going on in their budding social lives or even uncertain family situations, I value the idea that my students feel comfortable within my classroom. As a teacher, I carry a sense of urgency with my lessons and the content I use to promote them. My agenda is learning. Learning for me was not only a much-needed distraction in my youth, but also a means to an end. Learning and teaching kids how to learn is now the way I support my family. I value them so much because I want to see them not only meet the standards of learning that I demonstrate in class, but to also excel at them, to feel accomplished, and to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves—my class. As a teacher leader, we must adopt this mentality. It is one that espouses success and determinism of the highest regard for the intellectual curiosities that our students attempt to master.

I value structure and I value strategy. I have a very critical eye when it comes to lesson planning and the road ahead for a unit plan. My goal is to introduce new and unfamiliar content, married with curricular goals, at length and in depth. I believe that a good lesson can make an impact upon learning. It can change a mind or stir emotions. When I teach bias in non-fiction pieces, kids see what a cultural barrier is and its impact upon families. When I teach The Hobbit, they learn about the first storytellers, of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, and of literary archetypes. Deep content requires our attention. It causes us to be skilled learners. It moves us to be overcome obstacles and it build self-confidence. None of this is possible without a clear target in lesson planning. As such, teacher leaders must be practical but at the same time pragmatic.

I believe that creativity is not a tangent. Creativity is a driving force behind logic, reason, argumentation, and the sublime. I find that as a creative thinker, reflection is embedded in my lessons and strengths as a teacher. When I teacher point-of-view, I dip into a writer’s voice. I teach that writing from a genuine place, from the heart, will end in more successes than failures, that writing is living a thousand different lives, and that mastering this is the hardest skill to ever master. Creativity and underlying authoritarian overtones of public education are not at odds with one another. It is my assumption that academically inclined students want to present a quality, aesthetically pleasing product. To that end, as a teacher leader my belief that creativity spurs knowledge is a cornerstone in my philosophical beliefs in education.

Lastly, it is my assumption that learning is malleable. Learning and the many gradations thereof mean many different things for many different students. So is success and achievement. Learning and the measure of learning is such that with successes and meeting benchmarks in comprehension are in constant flux provided that students are given multiple paths to educational victory. Mainly, for me, this comes in the form of differentiating assignments and assessments.

When starting a unit of study, my students take a pre-test. This lets me know what I need to teach. After I give direct instruction, they take a mid-test. Based on these results, students have multiple paths to success. If they score an A or a B, they move on to an accelerated assignment. These go in the gradebook immediately. If not, it will not count against them. Instead, they take on an assignment based more in line with the fundamentals of that topic. Later, after working on it, they take a post-test which goes in the gradebook regardless of their score.

I have been working on building up these areas of my professional arsenal for quite some time. Really, they have become a part of the fabric of my teaching life. My values, my beliefs, and my assumptions all contribute to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I feel in the classroom, especially when I see students succeeding knowing that I had a small part in their journey to accomplishment.


Folks - Book One: History Repeats Itself