Let me start by apologizing. I’m sorry for the arrogance that seemingly permeates this post, I don’t claim to have “the” answers, only “some” answers. That said, I will argue that I am a very competent teacher. I got along well with the “problem” students; I taught my curriculum through inquiry/ I didn’t assess students using multiple choice tests; I spent significant effort helping my students understand how to learn; I worked in a “low SES” school and not once used it as an excuse; I integrated technology in meaningful ways; and I asked my students to be cultural critics.
On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be apologizing. I read the education reform literature and the edreform blogosphere and I worked my ass off to implement the things that are being written about. So, I hope you won’t find me arrogant, but I certainly should not apologize for doing what I believe all teachers should do. Reform your classroom! It’s the one place you have control over. If you don’t think you can reform your classroom, leave. I’m not saying if you haven’t “arrived”, leave. However, if you are not willing to take on the difficult task of moving your classroom in a positive direction, you should not be teaching.
I had a lot of success in my k-12 teaching. I still get emails, twitter messages, and facebook comments from former students who ask me to come back, who ask me why other teachers don’t teach well, and who say my class was the only class they ever actually learned in. I share those messages in humility. I do not want to claim to have teaching “all figured out”, but I do want to provide some notion that I actually did do some pretty cool stuff with students. Of course there were things I could have done better and I constantly worked to improve my teaching, as I still do. The fear that drives Shawn Cornally resonates with me. I wanted my students to be well prepared as learners, I wanted to encourage their natural curiosities not squash them. I wanted my students to learn about science, but more importantly I wanted them to learn about their own greatness as well as their limitations. I have decided to reflect on my teaching in a new series I’m calling “Reform your classroom”. This series will be my attempt to wrap my head around my own teaching. Some of my teaching was well-rooted in education research, some was trial and error, and some was simply my personality showing up in my teaching. This series is an attempt to share what I learned trying to implement reform in my little corner of the edusphere. I hope you will enjoy the stories.
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