As a first generation college graduate, a decision I made early in life was to have a growth mindset. If you’re new to the term growth mindset, or maybe just on the hunt for resources, check out Teaching Channel’s Growth Mindset Deep Dive. While many people assume things in my life have come easily, I’ve spent my entire existence struggling to succeed. Blessed or cursed (depending on your perspective) with an insane amount of drive as well as a natural curiosity toward all things, my life has been a constant cycle of discovery, failure, retooling, and — mostly — eventual success.
This lifestyle has carried over into my classroom, as I believe that regardless of the content I’m teaching, it’s my duty as an educator to prepare all of the young people that walk through my door to face the challenges that lie ahead of them. That’s why I’m such a staunch advocate for the incorporation of the engineering design process into all classrooms. The EDP is the epitome of growth mindset and transcends the classroom into every facet of day-to-day life.
In that spirit, I continue to refine my practice. Every year, I identify one area of my instruction as a point of emphasis. In the past, these areas have ranged from classroom management, to individualized learning plans, to the integration of technology. One area I’ve been putting off is refining the writing process that occurs within my STEM course. Why have I been putting it off? Quite honestly, I struggle with writing. I believe in the value of writing, but freely acknowledge that it’s not a strength I possess. Opening up this area of my practice could be humbling, but it’s my hope that we (myself as well as fellow educators) will all benefit from this experience.
The National Board Certification process was one of the most effective exercises I’ve been involved in. The initial process, as well as my subsequent renewal, have proven to be invaluable to my development as an educator. The challenges presented to me have encouraged continued growth within this profession.
I found one of the most difficult aspects of the certification process to be the videotaped reflective piece. This component forced me to critically analyze virtually every aspect of my practice. Lessons learned through critical analysis of the recording have compelled me to find solutions to a wide variety of minor issues that were possibly hindering the success of my students. The videotaping has had such an impact on my classroom that I continue the practice to this day.
This is something that often eludes me as I work through my day. Where does the time go?
One of my all-time favorite pieces on Tchers’ Voice is Sarah Brown Wessling’s blog post, A Letter to My Children: What it Means to be a Teacher. Throughout the post, Sarah shares the struggles and sacrifices that we all make as we attempt to meet the needs of not only our biological children, but also all of the smiling faces that walk through our doors every day. As a single father, coach, and teacher, this piece really hit home. Being a teacher is a balancing act. And that’s especially true if you’re a teacher leader.
Whenever I’m asked why I became an educator, my answer is short and sweet: “Because I want to change the world.” Not that I’m naïve enough to believe that my work will achieve world peace, but I have faith that there are enough like-minded souls spread throughout the globe to make a significant difference. Some of us are blessed with the opportunity to possess a leadership role within our profession. And it’s tough! Not only do we have to ensure a quality education to our own students, but we also have an obligation to provide support and resources to our colleagues.
So how do we find balance? Well, when you figure that out, please let me know!
While I do joke about it, there is truth to my previous statement. Even those of us that have lived a dual life for several years struggle at times. That being said, I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned with you.
August Webinar with Teaching Channel, WGBH, and PBS LearningMedia
Last month, PBS LearningMedia, WGBH, and Teaching Channel partnered to co-host a webinar on Engineering and the Design Process: Real-World Classroom Resources. The interactive, hour-long event provided an opportunity for classroom practitioners to converse with our combined team of classroom educators and curriculum experts.
Wow! What a turn out! Over 800 registrants AND we maxed out the webinar platform!
As we dive headfirst into a new school year, many educators are struggling to integrate engineering design into their classrooms. As the Science Laureate at Teaching Channel, I’m often asked two questions: “Is there one specific Engineering Design Process?” and “Where can I find NGSS aligned materials that emphasize the Engineering Design Process?”
What are your plans for the summer? The beach, visiting family in a faraway city, or backpacking in a national park? How about studying green energy in San Diego, going to Space Camp to study physics and astronomy, or updating your curriculum map with NGSS-aligned resources as you lie next to the pool?
If you’re an overachiever and the second set of options appeals to you, please attend the next #TchLive Twitter Chat on Thursday, May 19th, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET. Boeing Science Laureate Tom Jenkins and Teaching Channel’s NextGen Science Squad will be hosting the event.
As I’ve been watching CNN over the past month, I’ve been very interested in their feature “The Person Who Changed My Life.” It’s a retrospective series where studio personalities talk about people that have had a profound impact on their lives. Some of us were lucky to have come from families that were both loving and supportive. However, there are those of us that were twice blessed in that we also had our lives influenced by another individual that caused us to go down a totally different path then we would have ever imagined.
I was 18 years old and had just completed my first year of studies at Wright State University. I came from a fairly modest upbringing and was the first person on either side of my family to attend college. As such, I was bound and determined that I was going to graduate with a degree in political science and then proceed immediately to law school. My primary objective was to make enough money that I never had to worry about paying a bill at the end of the month.
To help achieve these goals, I was working at a court reporting firm to not only earn money for tuition, but to also build a supportive network. I had it all figured out. At least, I thought so…
My cousin was in eighth grade and was playing middle school football. He seemed to be having fun and I found myself missing being part of a team. That’s when I called the football coach and offered to volunteer my services for the season. He was receptive, and so began my friendship with Jeff Whitt.
Over the past few months, Teaching Channel has been working with more than 230 partner organizations on the 100Kin10 initiative. The overarching goal of the initiative is to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers to educate the next generation of innovators and problem solvers.
Two of the initial steps that our collaborative has undertaken is to identify the root causes of our current STEM teacher shortage, and also identify both the frequency and the fidelity of the engineering instruction that is occurring in today’s schools. So far our findings have been quite interesting and all of the robust conversations have left me wanting to dig in deeper with all of you during a #TchLive Twitter Chat. And what better time than during Engineers Week, which is happening Feb. 21-27.
Interested in learning more about the Next Generation Science Standards while engaging with colleagues from across the nation? Then join the Tch NextGen Squad!
As states adopt the NGSS and work toward implementation, Teaching Channel is committed to working alongside teachers to understand how the standards will shift instruction. As part of this work, we’re offering an online program for teachers from NGSS states to network with other teachers from NGSS states, engage in learning activities to interpret the standards, and use video to evaluate and refine practice.
My biggest regret as an educator is that throughout the first half of my career, I continually underestimated the abilities of middle school students. (Slow to learn, I would later underestimate kindergarteners as well.)
It’s not that I thought that they were unintelligent. Nor did I think they lacked creativity. I just didn’t bother to ask for their input and, since they were fidgety 13 year olds, I assumed that more structure equaled a better learning environment. I thought that if I fed them a nice dose of PowerPoints, lab experiences, and classroom discussions, that they would walk out of room 8c with everything they needed to be successful in their high school science courses and beyond.
When their standardized test scores came back over summer break, my practice was validated. By and large my students were very successful at both filling in the correct bubble and parroting a rehearsed response to a writing prompt. I had become proficient at churning out very good test takers.