In this week’s reading the chapter that touched me the most was Chapter 9: Lighting a Spark. I have always thought of that in terms of my responsibility as a science teacher to turn my students into future scientists. I know not every student I teach biology to is not going to become a doctor or not every student I teach astronomy to is not going to become an astronaut, but that is the way I teach them. That is how every teacher should present their subject matter. If students don’t believe you love what you are teaching, it is hard to truly excite them. I stay in contact with a lot of my former students, but since I teach primarily all freshman, by the time students graduate I know I am kind of lost in their high school memories. Because of this, I do not stay in touch with more and get to find out what career paths they have chosen. Also I have taught at three different schools over my thirteen years in the Clark County Scool District.
Three years ago I went to a series of lectures at UNLV given by several geologists on the topic of climate change and global warming and half way through one of the lectures I looked to my left and there sat Paloma Ortiz, a student I taught my first year of teaching at Desert Pines High School when she was a freshman taking earth science. After the lecture I approached her and said hello and we ended up going to lunch when the lectures had ended and I got to find out a lot about what she does now and the reason why she chose her profession. She is now a hydrogeologist at a environmental consulting firm in California. She was actually in town to finish up her enrollment in the doctoral program in the UNLV College of Geosciences. She credited me with interesting her in geology and even went as far as saying I was one of the reasons she is going back to school to get her phD. It was such a validating experience to know that I was partly responsible for lighting that spark inside of her to study geology.
The last two years I have been teaching geology honors, a senior level science elective and during that time I have had four students that I know of declare geology as their major. I asked one of them that I am close with what I did to spark their interest in geology and she just said it was because I seemed to love it so much that she began to pay attention to it because she wanted to know why I loved it so much. I am so honored to be a teacher and have the opportunity to affect my student’s lives in a positive way.
My Comment to Tom:
Tom, I love hearing the stories of students recognizing teachers as their inspiration! I’m sure there are many others that you have inspired, but it was so touching that Paloma Ortiz was able to tell you that you inspired her to get her PhD. Those are the moments when you know for sure that you are making a huge difference in this world.
I have to tell you that I have a new respect for science teachers. I may have mentioned that science was always my worst subject in high school and college, but now I know that it’s all just a matter of perception. I didn’t do well in science because I never put that much effort into it, so I didn’t get the best grades, and I never felt encouraged or inspired to work hard and do well. I see how much you inspire your students and last year was the first year that I found a love for teaching science to my 4th graders. Now that I can teach science with passion and excitement, it’s made such a difference in the passion and excitement that I see from my students. I only teach science once a week, but you get to do that every day!
This week I enjoyed listening to my classmates’ impressions of the book The Art of Possibility. It was nice to hear that each person learned a lot of practical knowledge that could help them as we graduate and move onto our future endeavors, whatever they may be. I felt the same way about the book. In a month that’s been filled with projects, discussion boards, blog posts, report cards, and parent teacher conferences, it’s been nice to read a book that has helped me change my perception and the way that I look at all of these time consuming tasks. Instead of letting it all get me down, I’ve been taking it one step at a time and here I am, successfully at the end of our 11th class!
This couldn’t have come at a better time because I have a week off of work for Thanksgiving Break! This gives me a chance to start working on all of the important tasks that I need to accomplish for our last month before we graduate. I’m so glad that this week’s session gave us a quick preview of the month so that I know what to be expecting. I’ve been searching through example Action Research Websites, so I have a rough idea of how I should be putting my 10 minute presentation together. That is one big task that I know I need to get started on right away. At first I was a little scared when we were told that making it to month 12 doesn’t necessarily mean that we will graduate. After thinking about the big picture & knowing how hard I’ve worked in these 11 months, I know that I will get it all done and make sure that I’m there in Florida to walk at graduation and meet all of these wonderful professors & classmates who have completely changed how I look at education through the use of media and technology.
To be honest, I’ve never really thought too much about leadership role models until this month as I’ve been trying to compose my thoughts for my Leadership Project. In my Week 2 Reading post, I wrote about the videos Steve Jobs: Secrets of Life and Steve Jobs on Failure. He’s obviously a leader that I respect and admire. I love that he was never afraid to be different and that he embraced failure as an opportunity to thrive and grow. For him to get pushed out of Apple, only to come back more than 10 years later to not only save it from failing, but completely turn it around, truly takes a great innovator and leader. Even though he’s passed, he made such a huge impact on this world that his legacy will live on forever.
I’ve learned about the leadership style of Steve Jobs through my husband Shaun’s experience working at Apple. Before he worked for Apple, Shaun was the kind of person who liked to do exactly what he needed to get by, then leave work at the exact time that his hours were over. I can tell that my husband’s work ethic and outlook on life has changed ever since he was fortunate enough to work under Steve Job’s leadership. Shaun tells me that he’s been taught to complete his tasks and do his job to the best of his ability, rather than spread himself too thin by getting caught up in extra tasks and projects. It’s better to do one thing really well, rather than do a mediocre job at many.
When he told me that, it made me understand why teachers get burnt out so quickly and don’t always have a positive attitude about the profession. What if teachers had one important job to focus on and there was money to hire others to help out with the many other tasks in a school? Teachers could educate students by focusing all of their time and energy into creating the most successful and engaging lessons while others could grade papers, plan school events, schedule assemblies and field trips, and help with prep work. That would definitely lighten the workload for teachers, but would it motivate them to work to the best of their ability? It may help for some teachers, but if they are not self motivated, then it might take some extra incentive for professional development to encourage teachers and give them the proper tools for improving student engagement.
Even though teachers at my school are overwhelmed with too many tasks, I do appreciate the leadership of my current principal who seeks out the different skills and talents of each individual teacher and finds ways to put them to use. She doesn’t rely on one teacher to do all of the extra work and she give opportunities for each staff member to shine. She also shows her appreciation through recognition at staff meetings and is always willing to cook and bake goodies that she leaves for us in the staff lounge several times throughout the school year.
I’m the type of leader who likes to lead by example. In my classroom, I find that my students produce better work when I take the time to show them examples of good, quality work. When I did my LiveBInder training, I not only made quality examples, but I also found several examples from other teachers to show what others have created. As I try and take on more leadership positions, I should keep my leadership role models in mind, searching for the best qualities in others and putting their talents to use by empowering them to step up and become leaders in their expertise.
As this class is coming to an end and we have reached the end of the book The Art of Possibilities, I see how this month was strategically planned to get us to start to think about our own possibilities. I just completed my discussion post video about my dream job. How convenient is it that this Dream Job assignment & the thought provoking book full of inspiring stories by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander came one month before we graduate?After finishing the last few chapters of the book, I now feel like I need to focus on keeping a positive outlook for my future, whether I decide that I should search for a new career, or decide to make the absolute most out of my current job as an elementary school teacher. Sometimes I let the negative attitudes of others drag me down. And while there seem to be more and more reasons to get down about our education system, sometimes it’s easy to use those reasons as excuses that can get in the way of me doing my job to the best of my ability.
This all started to make sense to me after I read chapter 10: Being the Board. Zander describes a scenario of a car at a traffic light getting hit by a drunk driver. At first it was a ridiculous thought for me to think that the drunk driver wasn’t 100% at fault in that situation. After reading on and thinking about it more, I totally understand the concept about being the board. Life it totally unpredictable and there will always be times when we can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is a risk that we take. If we live our lives blaming others and making excuses, all we’re doing is limiting our possibilities and opportunities for growth.
Now that I think about it, my parents are the greatest example of being the board. They never let bad situations get them down and it’s always amazing to me that they can come out of any situation with a smile and a positive outlook on life. Four or five years ago my parents were in a head on collision, hit by a driver and they were both going 45+ mph around a blind curve. Their car was totaled and they were rushed to the hospital. When my dad called to tell me what happened, I was terrified and I dropped what I was doing to go meet them there. When I arrived, my dad was smiling and laughing as he told me the story of what happened. He was so happy to be alive, but he never blamed the driver of the other car or got angry that the accident happened to them. It was a miracle that both my parents were able to walk away from that accident with only minor injuries. I know that I’ve picked up a lot of great qualities from my parents, I just hope that I can always keep that same positive outlook on life.
Niki’s Original Post: Week 3 Reading: Art of Possibilities
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012
My Response to Niki:
The quote that you picked out has so much meaning to it, and it applies to all of us who made the decision to choose to enroll in this EMDT master’s program. I think that it’s so great that you’ve created a dream/goal book and that you are using the EMDT program as a way to explore new possibilities. I would love to pick your brain about making the transition out of the classroom. Even though you are not a classroom teacher anymore, it sounds like teaching and education is still your life’s calling, and you have so much more left to give. I feel like I’m going through a similar situation, but I’m still in the classroom, suck on the fence. Do I try and make the most of my current position teaching 4th grade, or is there something else out there in the education and technology field where I can thrive and continue to grow? Was it easy for you to make that decision?
I’m so glad that you are having a good experience with your 6th grade students this year! It’s hard to say exactly what it is that gets students to change their mind about learning and their educational possibilities. It’s something that happens over time with all of the negative experiences that get these children to look at life and their education in a different way. There comes a point when students have enough of getting bad grades, or not meeting up to the standards or expectations of teachers, parents, siblings, or peers. It’s not that these students are failing; I think that our education system is failing these students. Behind that negative attitude and the wall that they have built up is a tremendous amount of possibility and potential. This makes our job as teachers that much harder.
Despite all of these obstacles, how do we excite and awaken that potential in each of our students? We may not be able to reach them all, but the fact that we are in this EMDT program together means that we are seeking ways to better our teaching practice, in order to reach and motivate more students, using the technology that is such a big part of their lives. Listening to all of the progress that you’ve made with your AR project, I know that you are making a huge difference with the students at your school. Teachers at your school are starting to take notice of your success, so slowly; many others will start to catch on!