Posts Tagged students

A Brand New Day: 10 Questions For a New Year

Tomorrow begins a brand new day… a brand new year.  Although I have been teaching part-time and taking college courses all summer (such is the life of an educator), tomorrow is the beginning of the fall semester at my main job and the fall always signals change.  My main job is working at a blended learning program with a huge online component. It is an experimental branch of education (maybe all of education is experimental?) and there are lots of things to ponder walking into school on that first day.

As I get ready to start my 7th year of teaching, I’m trying to mentally prepare.  These questions keep coming to mind:

  1. What changes is our school going to make?
  2. How can I improve and advance my courses?
  3. How have I grown as an educator?
  4. Can I make this school year better for my students then it was last year?
  5. How can I help my kids learn more given what I’ve learned over the summer?
  6. How can I get more of them to aspire to go to college?
  7. Is there more I should be doing?
  8. What obstacles can we overcome to make learning more accessible?
  9. How will I lead my kids to success?
  10. How can I avoid letting my subject get in the way of teaching?

I will do my best to answer these with the help of my kids, my school, and my personal professional development, all of which help me think a little more each day.  Even if I can’t answer these right away, I’m making a promise going into this year:  I will try to exceed their expectations, and I will use their words to answer many of my questions.

Mr P

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Breaking Down Personal Barriers

Forbidding Wall

When I was in High School I was petrified of public speaking. It got even worse when I went to college and didn’t know anyone in the room. In fact, early on in my college career I would drop courses if I found out there was a speech involved. I hated that about myself, but hated the idea of speaking even more. Then I became a teacher.

Knocking Down that First Big Wall:
When I began college at 21, after 3 years of floating around through life, I knew I wanted to work with kids. I wasn’t interested in teaching at that point because I didn’t think there was anyway I could get up in front of a class everyday and just….talk. But after a few years of college, something changed. I had to take a speech class to move to a 4 year school, there was no way to avoid it anymore. Even though I dreaded every one of those 3-5 minute monologues ( I would shake, my stomach would get upset, and I felt flushed with heat), I started getting a little confidence in myself. The final assessment of the semester was presenting a Persuasive Speech I wrote about working with kids in the community (I still didn’t think I could teach at this point). My speech got nominated by our class and I ended up in a school-wide competition. I didn’t win but made it to the finals and the observers were about 50 students, a dean from Stanford, one from Cal Poly, and the head of my school. In about 6 months I had gone from being deliriously nervous just to talk in front of 30 kids in a community college classroom, to the finals of a speech competition in front of some very intimidating people.

Going for It:
Once I got through that course, I knew I could become a teacher. But the fears didn’t stop once I did. I still get nervous in front of my peers and large groups and there are still personal barriers that I keep trying to knock down. The main difference now is that I set goals to break down those walls. I push myself to handle uncomfortable situations. Just last week I presented at my first NACOL Webinar, which was really strange and awkward. I wasn’t happy with how I presented my ideas in that hour, but I know that next time will be better because I got through it.

How This Applies to my Kids:
I want to push my kids to do things that unnerve them. I want to teach students to play outside of their safe zones. I want to help them get through their fears at a much younger age than I did. I talk to kids about this in very limited situations right now, but as I’m growing as a teacher I’m learning that this plays more and more of a role in students lack of success. I think I’m finally beginning to understand the role of fear in a teenagers mind, and hopefully I can help them break down some of the barriers that fear creates.

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