18 July 2011

#SchoolDidAGoodThing

If you don't follow @TheNerdyTeacher or read his blog, you are missing out.    After listening to him speak at ISTE 2011 and reading his posts, I know that his classroom is a dynamic learning environment where every student is given the chance to succeed.  He is also the type of person who looks at a negative situation and immediately begins to work out how he can spin it to work in his favor.

In some of his recent blog posts, he has charged the education world to begin to change the negative views the country seems to have of schools.  His most recent mission asks teachers to post on Twitter something positive that happened to them in school while growing up and add the hashtag #SchoolDidAGoodThing.  Inspired once again by him, I would like to share 2 stories that shaped my teaching philosophies:

The Best of Intentions
Middle school was not kind to me, as is the case for many kids.  I wanted to be an athlete, but I didn't have the coordination.  Academics came extremely easy and I was that kid who always had his hand up to answer the teacher's question.  I was not obnoxious, I just worked hard so I knew the right answer.  This led me to be bullied excessively both in and out of school (one incident actually gave me a concussion when a locker door was slammed into my head).  When I brought this information to the school counselor, he told me that I drew too much attention to myself and that I should think about not raising my hand in class anymore.  As any of my friends will tell you, I am extremely strong willed and do not let others dictate how I should act.  I ignored his advice and decided to stand up to the bullies.  Well, as most MS bullies are, as soon as I stood up for myself, they back off.  I look at this situation and wonder what I would have become had I taken this short-sighted counselor's advice.  Even worse, how many people did listen to what he had to say?  I am sure that he was doing what he thought was best, but he never considered how his words could have destroyed the confident man I was becoming.

Give a Boy a Chance
When you are growing up, you don't realize what adults are secretly doing for you to give you the opportunity to reach your potential.  I was on my HS fencing team and to be really honest, I sucked my freshmen year.  I never missed a practice, worked my tail off and ended the year 0-12.  We didn't have a large team which is why I got a chance to fence 12 times, but the better point is my coach had enough confidence in me to keep putting me in even though he expected me to lose every time.  Fast forward to my senior year.  At the end of the year banquet, I was captain of the team, held 3 school records and was on the All-State Team.  My coach pulls me aside afterwards and says, "Marc, to be honest, you were so bad your freshman year that I secretly wished you wouldn't return.  Thank goodness I never recommended for you not to come back out for the team."  My coach did exactly what he was supposed to: gave me support.  I didn't know how important it was at the time, but as I look back it was exactly what I needed to try and find out who I was going to be.  I could have given up, but instead I surged forward because I was given the chance.

Thanks to @TheNerdyTeacher for getting me to reflect on the people who helped me become the person I am today.