Sunday, September 23, 2007

What kind of school do I want?

While reading the book "Professional Learning Communities at Work" by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker, I found a couple of questions. (Okay, so there are lots of questions, some answers, and lots more to think about.) As part of the learning cohort at AHS we decided to examine a few of these questions before our next meeting.

(Way to go Brian. The next meeting is this week and I am just getting around to the homework now. Better now as compared with after the next meeting or never, right?)

So here goes.

  1. "When I leave this school, I would like to be remembered for..."
  2. "I want my school to be a place where..."
  3. "The kind if school I would like my own child to attend would..."
  4. "The kind of school I would like to teach in would..."

In regards to the first question, I would like to be remembered as the teacher that liked learning for the sake of learning. It does not matter if the material is in my specific content area or about learning in general, I would like the students to know that their teacher wanted to learn from them as much (if not more) than I have to offer them. I am interested in the world around me and the people in it. I would like the students and my colleagues to think of me as someone who wanted to be around people and see them grow.

The second question is a little more difficult. I would like to see my school be a place where other professionals want to come to see what we are doing. I would like the entire school to contribute to the greater good of education and the continual improvement of ourselves as educators. I do not want the school to stay the way it is. (That might not sound right.) I want us to develop new methods for doing things and get the students involved in their learning future.

Since I have two little ones at home, question number three is something that I have been looking at recently. I would like the school to encourage my children to take risks and learn from failure. I do not think that everything that is done in school should be a success. I think that the school should call me, as a parent, when my child is behaving in an offensive manner. I think the school should be teaching skills that we be helpful to my child later in life. I would like the teachers in the school to think "outside the box" and be interested in the student's lives. If I could really pick, I would pick something like the Denver School of Science and Technology (Only if my children are interested in these things. If not, I would find something similar in their area of interest.) I would like the school to have a global perspective and not just a limited view. Wow, there is a lot more. Should I keep going? Perhaps, I will come back to this in a later post.

Finally, the kind of school that I would like to teach in would include the students and community in all of the decisions. There would be support from outside the four walls of the building since they would be transparent (not actually transparent, you know). Students would be in a seminar class and do practical experiences later in their schooling. I think that we are doing a pretty good job right now but I also think that pretty good is not good enough. I would hope that all the teachers in the building are there because they believe that the school is better with them and there is something that they have to offer the students. I would want the materials in the building to be state-of-the-art and there should be ample training for the equipment use. I would encourage more of the meetings like we do currently. Give teachers time to work together. I would want the school to offer teachers time. Time to pursue degrees if they wanted, time to improve what they do by seeing and talking to other teachers, time to plan with other teachers, time to learn with the students and I would like to have time to reflect. I would want the students to be involved in the community and the school. Wow, there are lots of things in this list also.

This seems like it was more fun than it should have been. I guess that AHS is the place I want to be a part of, make an impact and change for the better. I guess it is a good thing that I am a part of it now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So Far...

So far this year:

  1. I have been a part of conversations about norms, mission and vision for two teams.
  2. I still am not sure where I am going.
  3. I am pretty sure I know where I am.
  4. I have watched/broken down/posted a lot of football film.
  5. Attempted to use the wireless in the downstairs classrooms (they seem to not like me)
  6. I have used the computers in the upstairs classrooms (they work great)
  7. Graded, graded and graded.
  8. I have had an introduction to Moodle and I am really excited about the possibilities.
  9. I worked with students to develop a community service plan for Link Crew.
  10. I have been collecting lab experiments on video to attempt to post (okay, it is just one, but it is a start, right?)
  11. Then there is the life outside of AHS. (More on this later.)

The astronomy class seems to be the one place where things are working the way that they should. This involves little on my part (which might be why it is going so well) but I need to be in the class to give some direction. The students decided on the percentage for each category of work that they are going to complete this semester. I agree with the percentages that the class decided on and I am excited that the students had the say in this. There have been a couple of lessons that I have changed so that the students are composing all of the material. For example, from a vocab list, the students were allowed to pick two to three terms that work together and then, as a group, they developed some type of digital documents to tell the story of the terms. One example was force and acceleration and the students chose a football player to display this information. I will link to these document in my next post to share this work.

My biggest concern right now is time. I know that time will take care of itself but I still worry. There are lots of good (perhaps great) ideas in my head but I lack the time to let them loose. This feels like a big excuse but there is a lot going on right now and the "old" way seems to work. The students do nto fight when you are lecturing but are they learning? Maybe. But are they learning a "like" of the material? Am I letting them down by being easy on myself from time to time? Am I the only one with these questions?