Recently, I completed an Administrative Credential, although I don't plan on applying to be a Principal for a long time, since I love teaching too much.
This school year, I am teaching 4 periods of 8th grade American History and 1 period of a Study Skills/ASB class. In my history classes, I will cover American History from its beginning as colonies through the start of the 20th century. One easy way to view my class is to break it down into the history of two wars: The Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Generally, I teach the causes, major events, and effects of both wars, and almost everything in my course falls into one of those categories.
However, I like to break my course down into 6 general thematic concepts: Power, Justice, Rights, Conflict, Diversity, and Technology. Everything we study - all year - will fall into all of these themes.
Some have characterized my teaching style in two words: Structure and Standards. I suppose that is because my class runs in a crisp, organized manner, with standards-based lessons as a regularity. However, those two words do not fully describe how I teach. I am an energetic teacher and I try to utilize a wide variety of strategies. I use cooperative learning, technology, role-plays, humor, and my favorite strategy of all, competition. Furthermore, my lessons demand high expectations, combining creativity and relevance to make history come alive in a fresh and infectious way.
I learned long ago that in order to become a great teacher who produces life-long learning students, I would need to be a life-long learner myself. I am a dedicated student, always interested in learning historical content, additional approaches in lesson planning, and new strategies for capturing the hearts and minds of students. Furthermore, I try to be a pioneer at Vista Heights Middle School, willing to try new technological equipment, organize lesson studies with fellow staff, and implement new programs designed to raise CST scores. A few times a year, I videotape my lesson in order to analyze possible negative teaching habits. I understand that teaching is a profession where the more you put in, the more you get out.
I believe it is okay - and important - to develop a good rapport with students. I do this by being thoroughly concerned for their academic needs, having an on-going relationship with their parents, and even playing sports with them regularly. I run a school-wide guitar workshop which allows me to meet other students who are not in my class. I co-coordinate the school's Talent Show, which is a yearly success, as well as the school's Christian Club. I have often taken walks with specific students that are struggling or distressed. My students know that I am their ally, not their adversary. Of course, I try to use my rapport with students to lead them into a deeper appreciation and love for U.S. History.
Perhaps the most meaningful way that I reach out to students on a school-wide level is by being the coordinator of an East Coast Tour. Each year, I customize an itinerary that takes dozens of students to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C., all of which compliments the Social Studies Standards. Among the many sites we visit are Plymouth Plantation, Harvard University, the Statue of Liberty, a Broadway Play, Independence Hall, the Smithsonian Museums, and Arlington National Cemetery. The trip is truly life-changing. Last May, I took 80 students, 5 parents, 6 teachers, and my Principal. Currently, I am working on an Italy trip, and I've just finished the itinerary which would have us visiting in May of 2015. So my goal is to visit the current 5th graders at the nearby Elementary school and promote that trip, since they would be the first class that would be able to attend. Click on "photos" above to see hundreds of great pictures from previous trips.
As you can see, my philosophy of education is clear and concise: Reach ALL students because ALL students can learn.
Lately, I have been involved in as much professional development as possible, including attending the AVID Summer Institute and the California League of Schools Conference in Sacramento. I plan on presenting at the next C.L.S. Conference as well as a National Council for Social Studies Conference later this year. My presentations would be on "Technology in the Social Studies Classroom" and "How to Raise CST Scores in Social Studies."
I have really begun implementing some cutting edge technology into my teaching lately. From surround sound speakers (with amplifier) to the new iPad(3), I believe that technology helps make class more fun for the kids. Recently, using the iPad, the new Apple TV unit, an HDMI-to-VGA converter box, an LCD Projector, and a SMART Board, I was able to show my classes 3-D images from the Civil War. I had purchased 50 pair of 3-D glasses off of eBay for about 10 bucks. Email me if you want some advice on using the iPad in the classroom. Applications such as Doceri, Pearltrees, Solar Walk and dozens of others, make teaching fun in all content areas.
Hopefully the above has given you a clearer understanding of my teaching style, strategies, and successes.
Below you will find some additional information about my class.
Click the above link if you would like to view the class Pacing Guide. I detail the topics we study, week by week, and I list the exact state standards that go along with the specific units.
Go to the following website to see 109 questions from the CST - the state test that all 8th grades must take at the end of the school year. If you can master these questions, you are on your way to scoring "Advanced" on the test!
I believe that all students can learn. It is this proposition that guides me in the pursuit of excellence in teaching and forms my philosophy of education. Because I believe that every student can learn, I do whatever it takes to create an environment where the learning process functions best. The most effective classroom atmosphere is standard-centered, managed effectively, and reaches out to various student modalities of learning. It is this environment that produces life-long learners.
Having students learn is not enough for me. Actually, it is not enough for the state of
Good class management is a critical aspect to being an effective teacher. Quality teaching and meaningful learning will not take place in a poorly managed classroom. Moreover, students need to know that I am fair, consistent, and trustworthy, and see that I am their ally, not their adversary. Central to my smoothly managed classroom are specific procedures and routines that students must follow on a daily basis.
Successful teachers reach out to various learning modalities throughout their instruction. Just as every teacher’s teaching style varies, each student’s learning style differs, too. Because of that fact, I see it as my responsibility to improve in the areas of instructional strategy in which I am weak. Through study, practice, and further implementation of proven instructional techniques, I plan on always refining my teaching skills in order to reach more students. A healthy balance of all learning styles should be interwoven throughout instruction and assessment; this is critical in order to reach all students.
In conclusion, I believe that all students can learn, and my primary goals are to ensure that my students learn the state standards and become lifelong learners. Continually refining and maintaining solid classroom management and utilizing various learning styles throughout instruction will help me achieve these goals – in other words, by being a life-long learner myself.