Monday, November 16, 2009

Who Are You?

I am passionate about three things (well, maybe a couple more than that): My daughter, the Knicks and trying to send good teachers out into the world. While the first two things are mine alone, you play in active role in that last one.

In your syllabus, I talk a bit about my own vision of helping you develop your attitudes and shape your beliefs about who you want to be in a classroom. I am serious about that; my job as an administrator is fundamentally dependant on the teachers who are in my charge, and the better they are, the better I can be. That's how it will be for your students one day--their success will, at least in part, be linked with your own.

To that end, this week I would like you to think about the task you have chosen to undertake as your profession: teaching. As a future educator, you have the capacity to change the world. Sounds hokey, but it's true. I take that seriously, and I hope you do too.

So, here's how I want you to start...

Please click on the link below and peruse the various quotes I have provided on teaching and education. (If you don't like any of mine, please explore on your own and come up with one you like better). After you've read and ruminated on all of them, I would like you to choose one that encapsulates your vision, notion, idea, and/or core belief of what it means, what it IS to be a teacher.

I would like you to approach this the same way you would if you were writing any good paper; start with a thesis (the quote you choose), and develop it with your own understanding of what it means. Provide support for your thesis with relevant details that will demonstrate your vision, illustrate your ideals and, in the very near future, create your "teacher persona."

*Note: Please DO NOT post your philosophy statements here. Rather, I'd like you to print a hard copy (single-spaced) and hand it in to me in class on 12/7/09.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Perils of Praise

For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team of researchers at Columbia university studied the effects of praise on students. Her findings are rather interesting. As you know, I somehow left all the hard copies of this week's reading behind. Anyway, here it is. Read this week's reading and, as always, offer your insights on the implications of this for yourself as a future educator. Feel free, as always, to use a personal anecdote to illustrate/exemplify your argument. We certainly all have experience with praise--or the absence of it...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blogs are up!

OK, so your classmates' blogs are linked on the class blog. Visit them, read, and comment on posts when you feel inspired to think. Again, please don't do anyone the disservice of encouraging them when they really aren't saying anything of substance or interest. That, in the end, will only hurt kids (future students). You owe it to your classmates to engage them when and IF they are engaging. Your comments should relate specifically to the ideas discussed and issues raised in the post. Pose questions. Let your fellow bloggers know what thoughts resonate with you and which ones don't. Let your fellow bloggers know when their thinking is on point, and likewise, let them know when their line of thinking seems weak or half-baked. Engage your fellow bloggers in intellectual discussion. This will hopefully help your classmates to dig deeper into the issues surrounding their topic.

You Can Always Look It Up, Or Can You?

Hirsch's essay highlights a number of fundamental conflicts in the field of education, among them the issue of "breadth versus depth" and progressivism versus "rote learning." Read his piece and tell us your thoughts on the issues raised.

And with that, I leave you with the immortal words of Dudley Field Malone who once said, "I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me." In other words, be sure to vigorously engage your colleagues in spirited and healthy debate...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lies My Teacher Told Me

So a couple of you have read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The rest of you are in for an interesting read. Check out Loewen's introduction and then draft your response.

While you should continue to evaluate the ideas of your classmates, remember my plea for you to evaluate your own thinking as well. That is, don't accept your first--over even your second or third--thoughts as fact. This practice of dogged self-reflection is what will lead to to real insight on the issues raised. Dig deep. Be willing to get dirty. The real insight's well beneath the surface...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Unconscious Bias?

I came across this article last year in Phi Delta Kappan, an educational journal that I get monthly. The article discusses the notion that many of us--even the well intentioned--have unconscious biases. Check it out:

It's a worthwhile read, if only to spark self-reflection. After you read it, be sure to let me know if you'd like to discuss it either in class or online. I originally chose not to assign it as an "official" blog response article because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter; I wasn't sure that I should ask you to discuss this in a semi-public forum (online). While we've established quite a safe community in class and I applaud your willingness to discuss ideas candidly, I just wasn't certain that it would be a good idea to give anyone the opportunity to read such personal thoughts on these loaded issues "out of context." Let me know what you think...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Hidden Intellectualism" by Gerald Graff--The Unpost

This is the unpost. That's right, the unpost. After an admittedly limited amount of deliberation with my inner selves, I've decided that I will resist the temptation to write something brilliant and insightful designed to inspire you reflect upon the Graff reading. That would only push you to read the Graff piece through my lens. And if you know anything about me yet, then you know enough to know that this is not what I'm about. So, friends, have at it. After you've read the piece and reflected upon it carefully, go ahead and let us know what you found to be most insightful and most questionable. Review my $.02 on how to write an amazing brief and share your thoughts here in approximately 500 words. Also, you should know that you're encouraged to directly engage each others' positions in your written pieces (cite your classmates). So, be sure to read each others' pieces as well. If you feel compelled to sign back on after you've already posted to respond to one of your classmate's ideas, I won't be mad at ya ;-) Have fun...