I’m up with the latest technology. I have a blog (three, actually…) a spanking new Macbook, a cool cell phone… But my mom who is an AP English teacher at Pompano Beach High School in Florida just emailed me a podcast she’d created as part of a workshop she was involved in.
Mom – what are you doing to me here? How can I possibly maintain my status as the family tech guy if you’re turning out podcasts? Podcasts!
My mom who used to call me for help with del.icio.us and Firefox sent me a podcast. Sure, it was a short, 30-second podcast, but it had pictures of my kids and my brother’s kids, music, and a voice-over. I can’t help but be simultaneously proud and a little bit intimidated. I’d post it here but she used copyrighted music from the Dave Matthews Band. I guess that’s at least one thing I can still teach her about now…
I guess my point in all this is that it’s never too late and you’re never too far into your career to give some of these things a try. In her case, with 23-ish years of classroom experience, I think playing with this stuff helps to keep her motivated to go to work every day. Sure she’s at a great school with motivated kids, but dabbling with new media is sure a great way to keep things fresh in class.
I have WordPress envy. As part of our Internet Study, some of our teachers have begun signing up for blogs at Edublogs. As I’ve helped some of them individually, I’ve really come to like WordPress quite a bit. I haven’t played with it too long, but at first glance WordPress seems to offer more template options "out of the box" without having to tweak the .css files.
Googling a bit left me to believe that I’m not the only one contemplating a switch, but I hate the idea of screwing something up so I’ll probably leave it alone until perhaps this summer when I may have a little bit more time.
I’ve been tagged by Brett at The Cranking Widgets Blog (for some of the education folks who haven’t yet explored "Getting Things Done," Brett’s blog is a great starting point!) with the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" meme.
As an educator, I actually found this to be a relevant and refreshing
opportunity for some introspection. Personally, for the guy who changed
majors 917 times, it was hard to pin down exactly what I wanted to be
at any given point in my life, but here goes…
As a kid
I wanted to be an architect (you know – like Art Vandelay).
My grandfather was a general contractor and I always thought it would
be so cool to design and oversee the construction of houses and
As a teenager
I was a band geek (see, I can say that because I was one…) from
middle school through college. So when I was in high school I had two
career goals: One was to be a civil engineer, the other was to become a
composer as well as be the conductor of a major symphony orchestra.
After spending some time in the classroom, some time in the private
sector, and some more time in the classroom, I’m now the assistant
principal at Greeley West High School
in Greeley, Colorado. It’s a great job. I get to work with kids but I
also have some influence over an entire school. I guess it boils down
to being able to help other people determine what they want to be when they grow up…
I’m also a husband to Lorraine and a father to Scott James (almost 3) and Elizabeth (almost 1 month).
I would like to become a building principal and – eventually – a college professor.
Here’s where I get into trouble. I’m one of those people who is interested in everything and could become a career student. Things I’ve wanted to be on and off – and still wouldn’t mind doing…
- Becoming a pediatrician or family practice doctor
- Becoming a lawyer and (eventually) a judge in the juvenile justice system
- Becoming an architect
- Becoming a general contractor
That was fun. I do think it’s funny that the overarching theme here is
that the guy who could never (can never?) pin down exactly what he
wanted (wants?) to do with his life is now in a position to help others
make those decisions.
On Wednesday I had the opportunity to do a super-quick, 30-minute overview of blogs and wikis for the teachers participating in our Internet Study. I would call it more of a learning community than a study but that’s just semantics.
I wanted to share the resources that I created for use in my presentation. Additionally, a hearty thank you all of the other folks who have shared their resources with the community-at-large. In that spirit, I’m sharing back. They’re not comprehensive by any means, but I found that it was a perfect 30-minute overview.
- Blogs & Wikis – Wiki page with notes and links from the session.
- West Tech Blog – Demo blog I set up using Blogger to show how simple it is to start a blog, add content, comments, and change templates.
- Demo Wiki – Wiki I used to show how simple it is to add text, links, pictures, and media to a wiki.
I’m trying to get them to be comfortable editing wikis that they didn’t create, but I think that will take some time. All in all, it appeared to be well received. For the next two Wednesday sessions, we will be spending lunch in the lab where we will be giving them some "supervised" time to play.
This pops up on my screen EVERY TIME I re-boot or login on my work PC. Don’t get me wrong – it’s simple enough to click the "X" to make it go away, but do you know how many teachers and staff members have asked me, "What happened? What did I do? This just – you know – ‘popped up’ on my screen!"
My hypothesis is this: The people who know what IE7 is know enough to be using Firefox (if they have the rights to install it, that is…), and the people who have no idea what IE7 is think their computer has been hacked. Is this what happens when viral marketing goes awry?
I find this more amusing than annoying, but after the 4th time I saw it, I just had to share with someone who would get it…
I’ve been doing a lot more reading than writing lately as things have really been hopping at our place, but one of the things I’ve been giving a lot of thought to as I continue to work with our student teachers is how differently I think I would do things if I were a new teacher today. You know – the classic "if I knew then what I know now" thing. Likely, much of that is coming from me really starting to think about what kind of school experiences I want for our soon-to-be-starting-preschool son and our 2-week-old daughter.
Some of the things I believed when I stepped into a math classroom for the first time:
- Homework? Every night. This is math class, isn’t it?
- Partial credit? Do you give your mechanic "partial credit" when he sort of fixes your brakes?
- Calculators? No way! They keep kids from thinking!
- Tests and quizzes? Every Friday! And if you don’t "get it," the train will probably be leaving the station without you.
I’m not proud of this. Actually, re-reading the above it’s a bit embarrassing. But it’s the truth. Most likely this is the result of the way that I had been taught math. I was never the math uber-nerd who was teaching himself differential equations while the common folk memorized SOHCAHTOA, but I was always in advanced math classes and could pull a B with minimal effort.
Were I to start teaching today, I think things would be a lot different.
- Homework? Not every night. And not nearly in the volume I believed was appropriate before. If they don’t get it in class, I’m not sure I want to reinforce not getting it at home or (worse!) copying it from someone else.
- Partial credit? Show me everything. Show me enough to convince me you understand what you’re doing and we’ll talk about how you can earn all the credit.
- Calculators? Why stop there? How about a computer? I don’t know too many engineers or physicists doing long division by hand these days. Calculators do keep kids from thinking, but that’s not a bad thing. I’d rather a student spend time thinking about what steps he’s trying and why than how to add or divide fractions. That’s why I like Connected Math so much.
- Tests and quizzes? Sure. But only as part of a comprehensive system of authentic and formative assessments that will give me a realistic picture of just how much a student understands as well as what I need to do to help them make it the rest of the way.
Working with our student teachers has really been one of the most rewarding parts of my year so far. It’s inspiring to work with these students who are fresh, full of ideas, and not yet jaded by too many years in the system. Probably the best part for me has been how it’s caused me to reflect back on my first years in the classroom.
Thanks for entertaining my random Tuesday thoughts.
As you might imagine with our family’s new addition, posting time has been pretty limited for me lately. Allow me to point you toward my first post on LeaderTalk in the meantime.
If you haven’t signed up for an account on Tumblr yet, what are you waiting for? Since my last post on tumblelogging, David has added support for mobile posting (Thanks!) and support for integrating RSS feeds (either recently added by David or recently noticed by me…) so you can tumblelog your Flickr or del.icio.us postings (or anything else with a feed for that matter).
With our new arrival I haven’t had much time to blog, but have really been enjoying the simplicity of throwing some random thoughts, pictures and links on my tumblelog.
I updated my original tumblelog post, but I wanted to add this one because I just can’t help but imagine the possibilities for teachers and students.
Elizabeth Lorraine was born on March 4, 2007, at 7:16 PM mountain time! She’s 4 weeks early, but tipping the scales at 6 lbs, 2 oz and 19 inches. Mom and baby are doing well. Our son isn’t sure what to make of the situation. And Dad – well – he’s exhausted!
You know you’re a geek when your wife starts having contractions and you grab your laptop but leave your toothbrush at home.
And you’re really a geek when you get very excited about finding that the hospital has free wi-fi.
It’s hurry up and wait right now…