Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recharging and reflecting

The most common question I am asked as a teacher during the summer months is, "Are you enjoying time off from work?"  Huh?  Time off?  Summer is when I recharge my batteries by NOT teaching, but it is certainly not time off.  There is a mountain of professional reading to be digested, curriculum to be evaluated and changed, and thinking to be done.  None of this is possible during the school year.  If I am lucky, I can decipher the notes I make during a unit about how to improve it.  Students also provide feedback about both units and teaching style.  This year, for example, my students wrote that I was overly sarcastic in class.  Upon reflection, this was probably true.  I was so focused on my Fulbright Israel experience that I probably wasn't as relaxed and caring as in past years.  We'll see how evaluations come in next year.  I'll work on the sarcasm.....seriously.  Right now, I am working on retooling two units, the beginning of the year oral history unit, and the Geography & The Human Experience unit.  While reworking the oral history unit, I read an interesting piece in the THE Journal.  It seems the folks at conduct annual surveys.  This past year future teachers were surveyed and the results were not exactly encouraging (okay, that was sarcasm.)  Most future teachers are learning to use the technology tools their professors and mentor teachers use.  They are not being encouraged to develop uses for cutting edge tools such as mobile devices, games, etc. which an increasing number of students have access to.  Geoffrey Fletcher, the THE editor who wrote the article asked readers "what teacher education program prepared [me] for teaching?  When was the last time I provided the program feedback?

Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon prepared me for teaching.  Back in the mid-70's, computers were limited to Fortran cards, and slides set to music was considered cutting edge technology.  Bernie Wolff, the first of many fine mentors I would have in my early years of teaching encouraged us to be creative teachers who never stopped finding new ways to reach students, differentiate our instruction, collect and analyze data about students and ourselves, and stay current with brain research, teaching literature, and technology.  I began creating musical slide shows of children's books.  My current school continues to work with Lewis and Clark interns.  They continue to be superbly prepared and continue to inject new, creative thinking into our school.

Enough for now, back to re-tooling.  Trying to figure out how quickly my 7th graders can learn and produce quality work with Animoto....

1 comment:

  1. I always enjoyed your sarcasm in class :)

    I also remember being impressed when you included Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" in our Current Affairs class as a launching pad to discuss recent history.
    -Jerry Ann