19 February 2013

This I Believe...

When I was doing my student teaching, I was asked to make a "This I Believe" statement for the first page of my teaching portfolio.  Recently, while helping a recent college graduate prepare for an interview, I told him to do the same thing.  But I have been thinking about my own statement from 13 years ago and realize I need to get it rewritten to better reflect how my practice has changed.  I am a big fan of lists that contain five things (don't ask why. Little bit of OCD in there somewhere) so here it goes:

1.  All students can and want to learn.
--they may not want to learn what I am teaching them, but they can do it.  They also do not know the way that works best for them.  Teaching HS you get a lot of kids who will tell you their method for studying and that works best for them.  Unless you get a perfect score on everything you do, there's always room for improvement.

2. "Technology should be like oxygen.  Ubiquitous, necessary and invisible" --Chris Lehmann
--no longer is it acceptable to say "I'm not that tech-savvy." The personal computer has now been around for thirty years.  It's time to figure out how to use it.  Computers, the Internet, cell phones, none of these things are going away.  If you don't start embracing them you will become irrelevant to your students.  It is OK to ask for help, especially from the students,  to learn ways to use technology more effectively.

3.  Teaching is not a job, it's a life style choice.
--teaching is an art form.  Ever notice how artists are just a little bit different than everyone else? They see the world differently and therefore are not treated like the rest of the population. The same goes for teachers.  If you are thinking about getting into education, understand that if you do not commit yourself to the job, the art, the students, then you will never reach your full potential as an educator.

4.  School should not prepare you for the real world but rather for a world that doesn't yet exist.
--I saw a statistic somewhere that said most high school seniors will eventually accept a job that doesn't currently exist. That doesn't mean the company is expanding and adding jobs. Rather that they haven't invented the job title yet. To my father's generation this would be like saying you could become a software engineer. Or for my fellow high school graduates, telling us we could design blu-ray players. If we are preparing students for the jobs that currently exist we are preparing them to be forgotten and outdated. We need to give students the skills to be successful at any job they may have and learn how to adapt what they know to new situations. Actually just that last part.  We need students who can adapt.  Adapt their thinking, adapt their environment, adapt their mindset.

5.  Every problem can be solved with a logical, scientific approach.
--It doesn't matter if you are dealing with a scientific problem or not.  If you approach everything in your live with a clearly defined order, you will be more likely to get the result you are satisfied with.  Go back for a second to your middle school days and recall the Scientific Method.  Make an observation, develop a hypothesis, test your hypothesis and then refine your method based on your results.  (Yes that was an over simplification, but go with it)

That's my list.  It's not perfect and it is always a work in progress.  What's the #1 item on your list?