MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY – 2010

The Death of Socrates (1787)

Image via Wikipedia

It is that time of year again, the first weekend after the start of school is here. That means it is time for me to look at my teaching philosophy to see if what I have learned, seen or been a part of over the past year has changed how I believe I should be teaching my students or if any of my foundational teaching beliefs have changed.

My Educational Philosophy for 2010 is:

“I strongly believe that we have to prepare our students for their future and using the tools and teaching methods that are available to us today and not restricting learning to how it was done in 1910, 1975 or 2000.

I accept the challenge that we have the responsibility to teach our students how to advocate for themselves, solve problems and have an open mind to ideas or solutions that may not be the first one considered.  I also expect students to make mistakes and that my classroom is a safe place to make them.

When introducing new concepts, technology or even reviewing what should have been learned previously, I cannot overestimate or assume that students have the background knowledge to be successful – in other words teach the students where they actually are, not where I believe they should be.  I need to ensure that when technology is used in class it is just a normal part of what we do and not something special.

Finally, my classroom is a safe haven for my students.”

My teaching philosophy has changed significantly since I first wrote it back in 2001-2002.  In that first edition I focused on a lot of buzzwords and edu-jargon to show that I was a teacher.  In this rendition I have a lot more self-confidence about my ability to be successful in the classroom and I have attempted to reduce edu-speak to a minimum and focus on things that I can address in with my students, not to them.

Technology is a big part of my teaching philosophy because it is my student’s future and I will be teaching students how to use as many different forms as I can during their time with me.

What is your teaching philosophy and why does it work for you?

“There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

THE DIGITAL LIFESTYLE

WWW's "historical" logo, created by ...

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Over the past couple of years, I have been using “Web2.0 technology and it has changed how I and many others process and acquire information.  We use computers, smart phones, tablet and other devices to stay connected to the Internet.  A lot of people worry that we are too connected and that it has become a different reality than people have had in the past.  And it is.

I can talk to someone from Australia, China, England or California via Twitter, Skype or other forms of today’s technology.  We can read the local papers of those Countries (using one of the translate programs), to find out what they are actually saying there not the edited versions that we used to receive.

The old information strangle-holds are not able to keep up with the proliferations of new ways for common citizens to talk with each other on a world wide web.  So what does it mean to me:

  • I don’t buy the paper except for Sunday mornings
  • I don’t buy magazines to read
  • Very seldom do I sit to watch the news on TVor even TV shows (ESPN is about the only one),
  • The only time I listen to the radio is to and from work,
  • About half of the books I read for pleasure are in a digital format
  • I read blogs on various topics from around the globe
  • I participate in online discussions via Twitter that has educators from around the world participating
  • I can attend conferences virtually to get more and often better professional development
  • No longer do I have to worry about which computer am I on, because about 70% of my work is now done in the “cloud”
  • Games are available to play and I can go into online worlds World of WarCraft, Second Life etc., if I get bored with just working or reading online

These are just a parts of my digital life and I do it from the comfort of my home.  I am not out and about every night attempting to find or do these things.  Most of them I could not do if I did not have access to what we have come to call the Internet.

Over the course of the last couple of years I come to expect to have information delivered to me by way of Twitter, my iGoogle start page, YouTube, Google Reader, from an email subscription or in my Apple RSS feed.  Simply stated, instead of me having to go and find new information or news, I expect it to come to me.  Research is a different story but with search engines like Google, Bing and the rest; finding stuff is easy, sorting what is useful or accurate has become the issue.

This seems to concern and/or surprise many people that I am going so far into the digital information age so easily and quickly.  I am supposedly too old to be comfortable with this digital lifestyle according to the “experts” or those who want to use stereotypes.

I may not be a “Digital Native”, but I have grown old using computers since they became Personal Computers and think I have a pretty good idea of how to use them effectively and much of the time I believe that I am a lot more comfortable with them than many so-called digital natives.

So stereotyping that goes on for many of us older digital immigrants is rather inaccurate.

I have made getting and using information digitally an integral part of my life not an add-on.  For me it is just easier to process the vast amounts of information available  in today’s world by doing it digitally.  Does this mean I do not have a life beyond my computer, no.  I still have a wife and family, I have a great job as a teacher, I am starting to workout again and have the honey-doo lists just like everyone else to complete.

I believe that the digital lifestyle allows me to get more done and be more knowledgeable  about a wider range of subject than I would have been in another era. But I do monitor how much and what I do online to avoid the trap of information/digital overload, I just think it is best practice.

Now that I am starting to integrate the digital “lifestyle into my teaching, not just use tech as a “neat thing” and I can’t wait to see where that leads me.   I guess it goes back to what I told my students during the first couple of days of school:  “I am a geek and I love teaching and using computers.”

Strange how the world turns isn’t it, in the past when I was called a geek or a nerd it was used as an negative term and I used to bristle about it, now I call myself one.

“There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

PERSONAL APPEARANCE MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Phila. Teachers on Capitol Steps, Wash., D.C.,...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

I have written about teacher appearance previously in my blogs and since it is the start of the school year, I want to remind myself and other teachers that our students, parents and the public often judge teachers based on their appearance.  Is this right or fair and does how a teacher dress make them a bad or a good teacher – probably not, but it is reality students and parents do judge teachers on how they look.

If we as teachers don’t dress as professionals and we show up to school in shorts, jeans, tshirts and sandals, hair all askew, etc., what kind of message are we sending to those who do see us in the classroom or school? Are you showing that you respect your students or your school, by taking the time and effort to look like a professional teacher for them?

Those teachers who dress informally or casually may say they don’t really care about how they look, and that it is more important that they teach well.  That may be true and yes I would much rather have a good teacher who looks unprofessional, than a bad teacher who looks good, but does it really take all that much time or effort to look like the professionals that we say we are?

So why not take the extra few minutes it takes look the part of a professional and be a good teacher at the same time?

I strongly believe this and I think that many others do as well.

With all negativity about public school teachers in the press, by politicians and others, why give them the one more reason to not think of teachers as professionals based upon our appearance.

If we dress like we are going to the beach or the mall instead of being appropriately attired when going to work at our schools, we really need to stop and think about what image we are projecting to others.  Are we giving the impression we are professionals who are well trained to teach our students or are we simply cogs in a factory system that “anyone” can be hired and trained to do what we do?

I think you can tell from this post what I believe.

I do think that we need to put the teaching profession in the best possible light, especially over when it something that we have complete control over – how we look when we are at work.

Will this help change opinions of teaching?

I don’t know, but I do know when I go someplace and the workers are slovenly dressed or their appearance is not what I expect for the situation, I begin to wonder if I am in the right place and look a lot more critically at what is going on there.  I think in some instances that is happening to teachers.

Last Wednesday I received an award that was televised locally and I wore cargo pants and a button up shirt, everyone else was dressed much more formally than I was (at least slacks and a tie, most were in suits).

When I saw the TV footage, I saw that I had dressed too casually for the occasion.  The bottom line was that I did not present my profession very well with my appearance and I felt as though I embarrassed my school and myself needlessly.  I should have been more aware of how seriously others were taking this ceremony and taken more time to choose what to wear for a planned event of this sort.

It was a great lesson for me, because it reminded me to take a look at how I appear to others and not wear what is comfortable for me, but to wear what is appropriate for the situation.

I will not make that mistake again.

It means that I do have to go out and purchase a couple of “sport jackets” and have one at school (just in case) for those surprise occasions when I should wear at least a tie and a sport coat to be properly attired.  They do happen during the year and often teachers are unprepared for those times and look slovenly to others.

To be honest I hate wearing a tie with a passion and would prefer to be one of the shorts, sweatpants and tshirt crowd, but I strongly believe that it is important that we need to show our students and others that we care enough to look like professionals when we are at work in our classrooms.

Does that mean that I believe that all teachers should wear a suit and tie or even a tie everyday – no.  Wearing a tie everyday is my choice, but in my opinion we should at least be wearing business casual in our classrooms and be ready to quickly adjust to a more “formal” setting when it is necessary.

The reality is that too many teachers come to schools dressed inappropriately or appear slovenly for their position as a trained professional in a very public occupation.

What do you think, does personal appearance make a difference in the classroom?

“There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

WEEK IN REVIEW – AUGUST 28, 2010

Ships on the Sacred Path

Image by ecstaticist via Flickr

SCHOOL STARTED!!!!!
That is the big news this week.  Tuesday was the start of “you will be there” time instead of “I can be there early time”, it is a slight change in perspective, but very powerful.

Now I have to be at school at a certain time and go by the bell schedule with my students instead of just coming doing what I want and then leaving.  You know something, I am ready for that change and am looking forward to a fantastic year.

By the way the kids were fully of energy and seemed to enjoy being back at school.  I even had 5 of my former 8th graders stop by and say “Hi”, which made me feel even better!  When they come back to see you when they don’t have to, it does mean you made a difference.

This is also my first week in review for One Foot in Reality.  I haven’t really had the time to write very much here, but I am encouraged by the number of people who have read what I have written this week.  Here are my top 5 posts from last week (and yes I wrote more than 5 posts)

  1. OVERWEIGHT & OVER TIRED
  2. IT’S CRUNCH TIME
  3. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES – 2010
  4. SCHOOL HAS STARTED 2010
  5. MY PERSONAL GOALS FOR THIS YEAR
Thank you everyone who has followed me from Resource Room 220 to One Foot in Reality.

“There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

SCHOOL HAS STARTED 2010

School Days (1907 song)

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There the two hardest days of the school year in my opinion are now over – Seventh Grade orientation and the first day of school for everyone else.  The first day of school is very stressful for students, their families and the teaching staff.  We are all wondering who will be in the classes and what the year will bring us.

I really, really like the idea of Seventh Grade orientation, it gives those students coming from our feeder elementary schools a chance without the eighth graders in the building, to learn where the homeroom are, get acquainted with some of their teachers and just have a less stressful introduction to our school.

This extra time to allow students to become comfortable in their new school is especially important to Special Education students.  They generally have a much more difficult time with change and need more time for their adjustment to be successful, but to have the entire school do it, is the right thing to do for all the incoming Seventh graders (a bit of UDL).  I have three seventh graders in my combined homeroom this year and they all appear to be making the adjustment very well after the first two days and I think that first day to themselves really helped.

This year I am also the seventh grade Resource Room English Language Arts teacher and after a “welcome back” assembly on both Thursday and Friday, we went through a shortened class schedule to get everyone in the groove of where they are supposed to be and how to get there in preparation for a regular class schedule on Monday.  Having these two days to get students comfortable with the school (both 7th & 8th grades), their schedule, reacquaint themselves with coming to school and having so many other people around is going to pay big dividends next week when we start the full schedule.

It was a great way to start the year.

I really think that I am going to like teaching Seventh Grade, I will have the opportunity to teach these students at the start of their Junior High career and hopefully instill a love of learning or at least giving it a chance to grow in my students.  These students are so full of energy and many of them are even showing curiosity and wanting to learn, which is so refreshing.  I am not going into the school year with starry-eyed wonder at how great my students are after only two days, but I can see so much potential to have a great year.  It will be up to me to help all of my students find and realize their potential.

Now to get ready for next week, by the way did I tell you that I am really excited about teaching this year!
🙂

“There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

THE BLOG MOVE IS ABOUT 90% DONE

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Image by Mike Monteiro via Flickr

It is my last weekend before school starts on Thursday, with Teacher Workshops on Tuesday and get the classroom put together on Wednesday. So I won’t have very much time for much of anything else, but focusing on school and teaching for the next few weeks.

So this morning when I decided to change my primary blog back to Blogger.com, I knew that I would have to set-aside around 5 hours for updating the widgets and getting them in them in order, finding the “right” theme (I really liked what I had in WordPress and wanted to find something similar, which I think I did), getting Feedburner/Technorati setup and making sure all the check boxes were checked correctly.

It is now around 9:30 P.M. EST and I feel I have gotten around 90% of how I want “One Foot In Reality” to look.  I think that I did really well not changing the theme while I was at WordPress and I plan to keep this theme for a while.

If anything I think I like this theme a bit more than the one I used at Resource Room 220.

When I decided to make this change, I also decided that I would start a completely new blog and not attempt to import my old blog entries back to Blogger which is complicated at best. Resource Room 220 is now entering a dormant stage, I do not plan to use it again except as a storage place for my old posts.
Well now that I am here, I have to figure out what to write about now.

Posted from Google Docs  “There is no try, only do.” – Yoda

OVERWEIGHT – OVER TIRED

Silhouettes and waist circumferences represent...Image via Wikipedia

When you go back to school (or if you are already back) look at your fellow teachers and staff.  How many of our colleagues are slightly overweight, overweight or obese?  More than we want to admit. Is that going to affect their ability to teach in the classroom.

I believe that it does and will.

If a teacher is not in reasonable shape and being overweight is considered a significant factor in not only being in shape and that it negatively affects health (I am purposely leaving the health issue alone).  Will these overweight teachers have the endurance or stamina to go through the school day without becoming tired more easily than others.

Does it affect how they teach students later in the day or the week?
I have never seen research on this specific subject, the affects of being tired and teaching, but as people get tired, they do react to situations differently than they would if they are not, so I would imagine it would affect teaching in a negative way also.  I can only use my personal experience to talk about this.

Looking in the mirror and using BMI chart data I am hovering at the top of the overweight scale, any further and I will be considered obese.  This is a slap in the face to me, but I can’t blame anyone else but myself.  I like to eat Mary’s cooking way too much and my activity level and intensity has decreased significantly due to my knee, so I have gotten fat. That might be an excuse for becoming overweight, but not an excuse for continuing to be fat.  Now I need to get off my butt and start to loose weight – about 30 pounds.

The reality is that in my opinion being overweight does affect me in the classroom, I do not have the same stamina that I did when I weighed less and by the end of the day I am more tired than I should be for my age. It is time for me to do something about it and I plan to – do you?

We also need to be supportive and understanding to help those who are trying to loose weight, by not tempting them with all the “great” food and stuff that is “donated” in the teacher’s room (sometimes daily).

I know that having the self-discipline to just say no, can sometimes be over ridden by the “well intentioned” offerings left there.  Can anyone say Hillman’s Doughnuts or Chocolate No-Bake Cookies. Please be aware of those of us who are trying loose the lard and accidentally sabotaging our efforts.

WELCOME TO “ONE FOOT IN REALITY”

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG – “ONE FOOT IN REALITY”.

I have thought about doing this for a couple of weeks, I wasn’t happy where I was previously and this seems like the perfect time to start a new blog.  School starts next Thursday and it is when MOST Teachers and Students are both anticipating the start of school, so it seems as though is the right time to start a new blog. A new school year – a new blog.

This time I am not simply switching blog hosts and transferring all my posts to the new blog, I am going to start over completely.   So “One Foot in Reality” has been created.

But why “One Foot in Reality” as the name of the blog?

I believe that sometimes we get so preoccupied with how the public, politicians, media or ourselves talk or write about things, that we and those that are writing and talking about education forget the reality of what is actually going on.  How we or others may want things to be, does not always mean it will be or should be that way.  I know that I get caught up in that trap as well.

There are many things we can not change immediately or locally and that we have to do or acknowledge in our classrooms in today’s world like:  funding issues, standardized testing, grading, differentiation, value added assessments, living by what is in an IEP, and all the other things that many do not like.  But they are the reality of the teaching profession today.

We can work hard to change the things we disagree with, but how do we live with them, when they are the law, regulation, rules, etc., and if acknowledge that we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.  In this blog, I will not always take the popular teacher position on a subject or the one that I personally would choose if I were “King for a Day”.  Sometimes even teachers can get blinders on about their pet causes or peeves – we are after all very human.

Please notice that according to the title that I only have only one foot in reality, because I believe that the solutions to many of our issues and problems in education (or else where) are not going to be found by continuing the current status quo, ignoring technology, setting standards, management by objective or following the money.  I plan to explore many “new” and some “old” ways to see what works for me in my classrooms and the students I serve.

The teaching profession needs to look at and for solutions that are outside of the box that we are currently in, even though there are pockets of excellence, there are too many things that need to change for education in America to be what it needs to be for our students.   In my opinion the first question we need ask and answer before making new policy or mandates is how what is being proposed affect all of our students – not just those at either end of the academic scale or socio-economic class.

I do not believe that educational or political leaders who have been out of schools for 5-10 or more years ago or are from other professions that have never stepped foot in the classroom, except for photo opps or to watch a teacher teach, are the appropriate ones to be mandating solutions for the classroom.  That is my personal and professional perspective on this subject, I may be wrong, but it is how I believe.

I hope that you will enjoy my writing on this new blog and I hope that I keep “One Foot grounded in Reality, while the rest of me looks for other ways to improve how I teach my students.

WELCOME TO "ONE FOOT IN REALITY"

WELCOME TO MY NEW BLOG – “ONE FOOT IN REALITY”.

I have thought about doing this for a couple of weeks, I wasn’t happy where I was previously and this seems like the perfect time to start a new blog.  School starts next Thursday and it is when MOST Teachers and Students are both anticipating the start of school, so it seems as though is the right time to start a new blog. A new school year – a new blog.

This time I am not simply switching blog hosts and transferring all my posts to the new blog, I am going to start over completely.   So “One Foot in Reality” has been created.

But why “One Foot in Reality” as the name of the blog?

I believe that sometimes we get so preoccupied with how the public, politicians, media or ourselves talk or write about things, that we and those that are writing and talking about education forget the reality of what is actually going on.  How we or others may want things to be, does not always mean it will be or should be that way.  I know that I get caught up in that trap as well.

There are many things we can not change immediately or locally and that we have to do or acknowledge in our classrooms in today’s world like:  funding issues, standardized testing, grading, differentiation, value added assessments, living by what is in an IEP, and all the other things that many do not like.  But they are the reality of the teaching profession today.

We can work hard to change the things we disagree with, but how do we live with them, when they are the law, regulation, rules, etc., and if acknowledge that we ignore them, we do so at our own peril.  In this blog, I will not always take the popular teacher position on a subject or the one that I personally would choose if I were “King for a Day”.  Sometimes even teachers can get blinders on about their pet causes or peeves – we are after all very human.

Please notice that according to the title that I only have only one foot in reality, because I believe that the solutions to many of our issues and problems in education (or else where) are not going to be found by continuing the current status quo, ignoring technology, setting standards, management by objective or following the money.  I plan to explore many “new” and some “old” ways to see what works for me in my classrooms and the students I serve.

The teaching profession needs to look at and for solutions that are outside of the box that we are currently in, even though there are pockets of excellence, there are too many things that need to change for education in America to be what it needs to be for our students.   In my opinion the first question we need ask and answer before making new policy or mandates is how what is being proposed affect all of our students – not just those at either end of the academic scale or socio-economic class.

I do not believe that educational or political leaders who have been out of schools for 5-10 or more years ago or are from other professions that have never stepped foot in the classroom, except for photo opps or to watch a teacher teach, are the appropriate ones to be mandating solutions for the classroom.  That is my personal and professional perspective on this subject, I may be wrong, but it is how I believe.

I hope that you will enjoy my writing on this new blog and I hope that I keep “One Foot grounded in Reality, while the rest of me looks for other ways to improve how I teach my students.

I AM RETURNING TO BLOGGER

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (resource220.com)

In my MORE THAN A LITTLE DISAPPOINTED post this morning, I discussed my disappointment with WordPress.com.  I wrote most of that post last night and edited it some this morning before posting.  However, the more I thought about it overnight and this afternoon, the more I decided that changing back to Blogger is the right thing for me to do.  I like Google products and how they work for me and integrate reasonably well.

My new blog is named One Foot in Reality and I hope that it remains my primary blog for several years, I am tired of the seemingly ever changing hosts and blogs, and want to stay in one place.

WordPress.com is a good blogging platform and host, which meets most people’s needs, but I guess I have different needs and have decided that Resource Room 220 will not be my primary blog in the future.  I may continue to post blogs that related strictly to Special Education topics, I have not decided completely on that yet.  I will see how things go.

What will it cost me to move back to Blogger…

  • stability – I had planned on not moving around and being in one spot for a longer period of time – it didn’t work again on WordPress.com
  • all my stats – okay I am not really worried about that
  • reputation – I keep my reputation as a blog butterfly – this is a negative and I want to change it.
  • my readers – hopefully they will follow me to my new blog
  • all my previous entries – this bothers me a little bit, because when I return to Blogger, I will not be bringing my blog history with me, I am going to leave it here.

The move back to Blogger is not without its consequences, but I just do not see remaining here and am willing to take the short-term consequences to make a long-term gain.

I hope that you will follow me to One Foot In Reality.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.