The type of teacher to strive to be

These last couple of weeks have been extremley busy- school is picking up, my jobs are accelerating in work load and it is time to finnaly begin to apply for teaching jobs!! I still can not beleive that after four years at the University of Regina, and a life time of working towards becomming a teacher, it is finally time for my career to begin. In these last couple of weeks I have felt the pressure and stress of trying to find a job- frantically filling out applications, and preparing for interviews. I was finding my self overwhlemed by the pressure of getting everything I need to get done -done, that I did not take the time to reflect on how exciting it is that my career is about to begin.

My mom, probably sensing that I was overwhelemed, sent me this article that a parent had wrote about the diffrence that teachers make to the lifes of their students and to society. Although it is a little bit of a typical cheezy-teacher article, it really got me excited and reaffirmed some of the reasons why I want to be a teacher! The author talked about how some teachers are great instigators of the curriculum, while some just teach and go home, while another type of teacher strives to be a leader- a person whom challenges and inspire their students to acheive their potentials and beyond. The latter is the type of teacher I want to be. I have always been drawn to teaching because of the potential to inspire others to reach their potential. I was student that at times got lost in system. It was the teachers that challenged me, beleived in me, and were there to help discover my potentials that really shaped who I am as an individual, and who I hope to be like as a teacher.

I hope that this article provides other with inspiration and reaffirmation as you finish your last semester of classes and university!

Lessons From School Teachers
Last weekend I attended my daughter, Hayley’s, high school graduation. I’ve been in a reflective mood since, thinking about how she’s grown into an amazing, gifted young woman. But, I’ve also reflected on something else. In the graduation programs I heard many of her teachers speak. I was genuinely moved, not just by their eloquence and wisdom but also by their presence. There is much to learn about leadership from teachers. In Oprah’s final show, she introduced and praised her grade 4 teacher, an early “liberator” who made her feel valued. And even the two American Idol finalists acknowledged the teachers who inspired them. Think about your own teachers. There are those who just meet the curriculum requirements and help you get into the next grade, while others inspire you, build your character, and mentor you to be a better person, not just a better student. And think about the bosses you’ve had. Some merely help you get your work done, some get in your way, but some change your life. Some help you be a better employee, while others help you be a better person. Hayley has had some amazing teachers over the years that have deeply impacted her. I wish all of them could have been there to see her graduate, to know the difference that they made.

How is it that some teachers are merely teachers, but others are leaders, mentors, and life-changers? And how is it that some bosses are merely bosses, while others influence and build your moral fibre, model and teach new attitudes and behaviors, and create a constructive legacy for future generations? It is this distinction that makes a “mentor leader.”

While there are many leadership practices that amplify one’s impact on others, “mentor leaders” possess three qualities of leadership that exemplify their presence:

1) Leaders who make a difference are authentic. They are human, and humble, and present. They also aren’t perfect or attempt to create an illusion of perfection. To impact others, you can’t be phony. People will see right through it. By being who they are, they create a space where others are inspired to also be authentic. Authentic people love what they do and are open to learning about themselves. They are inspired by a purpose and a passion, so their heart’s in the game, and by being inspired, they inspire others.

2) Leaders who make a difference are accountable. They can be counted on and don’t make promises they aren’t prepared to keep. They create a place where blame is viewed as a waste of time. They have high standards, both for themselves and those around them. It’s inspiring to be around people you can count on. You aren’t a leader until someone says you are, and you won’t earn the credibility to influence and be trusted if people can’t count on you.

3) Leaders who make a difference love. They genuinely care. They love their work and they love the people around them. They understand that leading is largely a matter of caring about people, not manipulating or controlling them. Leaders who love measure their success by the trust they build and the value they bring to the lives of people. Mentor leaders know that their work is a means to a higher end and put people above products and processes. It’s about changing lives.
Seeing so many examples of such fine mentor leaders last weekend made me optimistic about our future leaders. Great leadership goes well beyond merely “getting the job done,” and cannot be reduced to technique or position or power. Great leadership inspires others and comes from the strength of one’s identity and integrity – their presence. When teachers possess this presence and inspire it in their students, we are truly fortunate to have them in our lives. When it happens at work and in our lives, we reach unimaginable potential.

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Making Social Studies Relevant via Twitter

In our ECMP class the other day we were shown a person on Twitter that has set out to re-broad cast World War Two. Every day he tweets a new piece of news from the war ( following the chronological order of events in history). He claims he is going to set out and broadcast updates on World War Two, untill he reaches the last day of the war. I have not been able stop thinking about this idea- as Twitter has provided a very unuqe opportunity for people to display imformation. I think that as a teacher, using Twitter to document history in this way could serve to be powerful tool to communicate the chronological order of events to a class while also being a way to make history be more real. I can see this type of “live-tweeting” of history being used as a way to begin a social studies class ( that was studying some kind of historical period). The class could start with the dailiy tweet- or moment in time, and then go to do somesort of activity that get the class to further learn about that day or event. This kind of tool could also be a tool for students to become the teachers. Perhaps a group of students could each get a specific time perios, and be responsible to teach to class about those dates.

When treaching social studies I found it difficult to always make the content relevant and interesting to the class. This to me was frusterating because I loved social studies as a student, but found it difficult to make the content intresting for the class. Using technology, such as Twitter, really helped me make social studies relevant to the class.

What are your thoughts on teaching social studies? Does anyone have any ideas on engaging and powerful social studies lessons?

Interesting idea: Facebook populates more people then all of europe!

So I was reading this article about the prediction that the revenue that Facebook is generating might have hit a plateau.

Although I found this very interesting what really got my attention is the fact that Facebook currently has 846 million members. This got me thinking about what percentage of the world population is using Facebook. I discovered that the  current population of the world is just over 7 billion. That means that 12% of the world is currently using Facebook.

At first this did not seem like a large percentage of people that are connected to the social media giant. I did some digging around to find different statistics to compare Facebook users to. I discovered that Twitter ( as of the end of 2011) has 300 million members, which adds up to about 4 percent of the world.

To be able to visualize how big 12% of the world really is, I started to look at percentages of population in the world. I discovered that ALL OF EUROPE accounts for just over 733 million people, which adds up to 11% of the worlds population.

WOW!! Talk about how social media is brining our world together.

This whole process of figuring out population sizes got me thinking about how an activity like this would be a great student directed project for a social studies and math unit. Looking at a population group of their choice and figuring out where that population stands in size compared to the rest of the world. 

Out of the ordinary.

I was watching the news the other day and was just about to turn off the TV to go do my much needed homework when  this strange story came on. It is about the mysterious outbreaks of Torrettes like symptoms on 13 teenage girls at a Upper New York school. The first occurrence was last october when a talented softball player went unconscious at a concert and then again at her homecomming dance. Her symptoms progressively got worst and transformed into tick like symptoms, such as spasms, uncontrollable clapping, random shouting and daily collapses. The doctors ended up diagnosing her with Tourettes syndrome. However, they are now changing their initial diagnoses as 12 other girls in her school are showing symptoms of the same calibre. It is currently being thought that the girls have a case of group conversion disorder- which is a disorder which primarily effects girls and is triggered by the cultural stresses which is effecting that group.

There has been no clear prognosis for the girls yet, but Erin Brockivich ( yes from the movie!) is investigating a possible oil spill in the area that could have triggered such a mass breakout of symptoms.

Some people are comparing these girls to the cases of the Salem Witch Trials, which began when several girls began suffering mysterious fits and outbursts.

The more I read about these incidence the more I began to think about what the school is doing for these girls, and the rest of the school community? These girls are getting a lot of attention and many of them have had to temporarily give up their former lives as cheerleaders, or athletes, because of the condition. I really hope that their school has something in place to support these girls and to educate the rest of their school community on how to be accepting and understanding of these outbreaks.

Here are some articles about these cases, as well as a link to one of the girls perosnal vlog about whats happening to her and in her school!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/adolescent-girl-hysteria.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/hysteria-upstate-ny_n_1244142.html

Let me now what your thoughts are.

“Authentic” Assessment: What should the roles of grades be?

Something that I have been consistently struggling with over my time at University and in my pre-service teaching experiences is assessment. Assessment ( both formative and summative) are suppose to track students growth and progress over given periods of time. I do agree that it is absolutely  essential to track students growth, as in my opinion helping students better themselves and challenge them selfs is a key role for an educator, but I have always wondered about how education often assess students.

I find that there tends to be pressure on educators ( as we are in a sense the “trainers” of the next generation) to be accountable of students learning ( this should be so as our job is to help students learn , grow and challenge themselves) . This accountability often lies on students number or letter grades. Students growth and improvement is often based on a series of paper assessments. These assessments are often marked by rubrics, or other tools that are designed to “judge” students work. I ¬†wonder how effective these tools are in effectively monitoring students growth and learning and I have always wondered if students potentials are sometimes lost in knowing that they are going to be graded. I ¬†was always a conscientious kid and would figure out exactly what I needed to do to get a good mark. Although, like many other students, I exceeded in getting good marks, which made me wonder if I didn’t take as many challenges or risks in my learning in fear of not receiving a high percentage on an assignment. On the flip side, students that might struggle with a certain area might be withdrawn from learning opportunities in fear of receiving another “low grade”. I have worked with lots of students that have began to give up on school because they feel that they are going to receive a low mark.

After having a conversation with my peers on assessments, we all agreed that assessing students is an absolute expectation put on teachers, and that this expectation to provide marks is not necessarily going to change, but that as an educator it is important to find ways to holistically asses your students.

I don’t have a definite answer of how to expectations on teachers to keep a “paper trail of marks” and how to make assessments and learning opportunities the MOST meaningful for the members of the class. I do think that providing differentiated instructions, choosing activities that matter to the students worlds and facilitating class and individual discussions on a given project or assignment all help to create a meaningful learning environment.

What are your thoughts on assessment? what should the role of grades be?

I am very interested to know everyones opinions and experiences!