27 July 2014

What question do you wish we had asked?

When we sit down with a potential candidates, we ask a lot of questions about their past and present.

Why are you the best candidate for this job?

Describe how you have overcome adversity.

What made you want to become a teacher and how your experiences have shaped who you are today?

How can you tell that a lesson is successful?

What words would your students use to describe your classroom and teaching style?

How do you handle students varied learning needs?

These are all great questions and will certainly tell you about the personality and teaching style of the potential candidate.  But we are living in a constantly changing world where one of the most important activities a teacher should be engaged in is reflection.

At an interview, the last question that I was asked was "What question do you wish we had asked you?"  I was totally thrown by this as this was the first time any interviewer had asked me this question.  I sat for a second and realized that in every interview I have been on, I have been asked about what I have done in the past or what I would do in hypothetical situations.  Never have I been asked about I am going to do in the future or what my professional growth goals are for next year.  So I described my professional goal for 2014-2015 of creating Google Certified Student teams ( I will talk more about this goal after the GTA this week).  

Why don't we ask about a teacher's professional growth goals or for their blog/Twitter handle/Google+ page?  Wouldn't these tell us more about a teacher than some of the typical questions?

What question would you want to be asked in an interview?

17 July 2014

What I meant to say

I had an interview this week for an Assistant Principal position. The first one went really well, but I was less than stellar the 2nd time around in front of the committee. To be completely truthful, I got out to my car and slapped my hand to my forehead as hard as possible in an attempt to see if I still had a brain in there. What threw me was one question, in particular:

What do you see as the difference between a MS and HS classroom? Specifically.

I will not reveal my actual answer because it is embarrassing. I had all of these things I wanted to include during my interview and this would have been the perfect place to use them, but my brain went blank.  I wanted to say:

The difference, as I see it, is simply how you structure the activities that you use at each level.  Students should be sitting in small groups and bean bag chairs while participating in Edcafes in English class. In science, they are completing guided-inquiry activities where they are given the objective, a tray of materials and are developing their procedures and documenting their results in a Google Doc. In math, they are creating small vehicles that propel themselves down the hall, record their results with their cell phones, and analyze the class results that was collected collaboratively in a Google Spreadsheet. In Social Studies, they are responding to the teacher's questions in a back channel while watching a video. In PE, students record each other with their cell phones while completing drills, analyze their form, and share the video with the teacher. 

To the school that I interviewed with:  I am sorry you didn't get to hear the response I wanted to share.  You got the generic me; the one that tries to be like everyone else. I won't make this mistake again.

This has been bothering me all week and I feel a lot better.  Thanks, everyone, for listening.

11 July 2014

Sometimes it's the little things

I saw this pin on Pinterest last year about leaving words of encouragement on pencils for students during exams. I tried it for my Honors class and they really loved them. One student even made a Tweet about it a few months later when she found the pencil in the bottom of her backpack.
I wanted to do this again for all my classes for finals this past year but with 152 students there was no way that was going to happen. So, at the last minute, I decided to just take a whiteboard marker and write the message directly on the desk.  Here are some pictures of what I wrote:

I think my favorite part about the day was when some students came in early, noticed the messages, and went around the room trying to find the one they liked best.  I don't know if it helped improved scores, but it definitely put a smile on their face.

One student told me at the end of the year that she feels so comfortable learning in my classroom.  I think I can call my year a success.

08 July 2014

Who are you?

I am reading through Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger and just finished the chapter on creating your brand. The concept is pretty simple: when people search the Internet what do you want them to see?  Using your school's website and social media, you can flood the Internet with positive images and stories about your school, keeping a high impression of the school in the public eye.

In my classroom, we use the hashtag #chemisawesome for everything that we do. Pictures/videos of demos, labs, good grades, all appear on this hashtag.  This is my brand.  These positive images are what I want students, parents, community members, random strangers, colleagues, hobos living under a bridge, President Obama to see when they search Google for my classroom.

When we teach students about their digital footprint, we focus fare too much on the bad things that could happen to them.  Instead, we need to constantly model how social media SHOULD be used. Every classroom should have a blog/website/Instagram/Twitter account.  We should be forcing students to use those computers they call cell phones to document the amazing things they do every day and share it with the world.  Think of how easy it would be for colleges in the decision making process when they search for an incoming freshmen and they find hundreds of pictures of them performing community service, winning awards, participating in extracurricular activities, and what they are learning in their classes. Forget the 650 word essays about who you would be having lunch with.  Soon the application will say please insert the link to your blog or Instagram feed that shows how you are having a positive impact on the world.

So my question is:  when I Google you, which version of you am I going to find?