Subject:Curriculum and Instruction
I believe that a school's curriculum and instruction should follow the 3 r’s; it should be relevant, rigorous and foster relationships. I believe this because my middle school education closely resembled Ben Stein’s class in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. My main opportunity to form any sort of collaborative relationship with my classmates was to pass notes and tackle the real life problem of how to best pass notes without being caught. I don’t think I learned to my full potential as tests were merely a regurgitation of the notes I took during class. There are many aspects of curriculum and instruction that I think are important such as focusing on Common Core, providing ubiquitous access to the curriculum, and consistent expectation for students. What that all said, I currently believe that the most important issue today is the ability for schools to provide project based learning opportunities. Teachers should find the balance between direct instruction (knowing) and the ability to apply or experience the instructional material in real life(doing). As such, I wanted to give my students an experience that would help them understand the holocaust from the perspective of someone who lived through it. One of my good acquaintances is a holocaust survivor. I asked her if she would be willing to help me create a one day workshop for the students. She agreed and we designed a one day workshop for the students that focused on her experience as a child, and the brainwashing mechanism of the Nazis. The students listened to her story, then we had a simulation of one brainwashing technique. I enjoyed the moment when they understood how the anti-semitism could so easily spread throughout Germany.
Subject:Parent and Community Involvement
I believe that schools function best when they work hand in hand with parents and community partners. I believe this because I have worked at schools where I had parents volunteer to help out in my classroom, chaperone dances, and raise money for school projects, I also have experience working in schools with little to no parental involvement. I’ve always worked hard by going out into the community to actively seek out local community partners who would be willing to come into the school and provide some real world experiences for my students. One example of a community partnership I created occurred two years ago when I partnered with a fast food company based in North Carolina. Their CEO and Vice President of Marketing came in and talked with my students about the principles of marketing, and how new product development worked. The students were given the task of creating a new product and a marketing campaign for that product. Each week people from the company's marketing and operations department would come to the school to meet with the students and provide feedback on how the students were doing. At the end of the project each student had experience in creating a complete, professional marketing campaign, and a letter of recommendation from the Vice President of Marketing.
Subject: Discipline and School Climate/Culture
I believe that schools should use discipline as an educational tool, meant to foster positive behavioural change, not a mechanism solely for punishment. I believe this because I have seen the futility of endless cycles of punishment on student behavior. If the purpose of discipline is to correct behavior, then schools should focus on a restorative notion of discipline. This notion needs to be delivered respectfully and consistently. Every student deserves to be held to the same behavioral expectations. I have learned that I need to hold myself to the same expectations I hold the students to. I can’t be disruptive of the learning environment either. I create relevant and rigorous lessons for the students and I can’t deviate from them without good reason. By showing my students the respect they deserve as learners, it is my hope they will reciprocate it back to me and their fellow learners.
I believe that technology is the future of education. I believe this because throughout my entire life technology has been a huge component of it. I also had a realization the other day when my students were talking about how they use technology at home. What I now consider to be the greatest and best technology available on the market today, is some of the worst technology my students will ever see and use. As we move faster and further into the 21st Century our students are going to need to know how to learn, unlearn, and relearn tools and methods of transmitting information. One of my favorite quotes about educational technology comes from a former principal of mine. We need to have schools that are “driven by curriculum and instruction, but powered by technology.” I think this is accurate because schools are learning how to use technology hand in hand during daily instruction. It isn’t a novelty, technology is a powerful medium for giving our students access to the curriculum. For two years I worked as an Instructional Technology specialist, assigned to support two 1:1 schools with about 1500 students and 100 faculty and staff each. I provided professional development, student training, and co-teaching opportunities with my teachers in order to help facilitate maximum useage of the technology in daily pedagogical practice. This year I am working to help my department transition into a paperless classroom. My goal is that, coinciding with the district technology access plan, our department will be paperless within two years.
As a school leader I will have three non-negotiables. Primarily, do not lie. In education telling a lie is not only speaking something that is not true, but it can also be posting an inflated grade for a student because you happen to like them. This does not accomplish anything except give the student an unrealistic measure of their content mastery. Grades help tell the student's story, and provide direction to teachers as how best to assist the child access the content. Secondly, work toward a safe and inclusive environment. I want my school to be a place where students feel physically and psychologically safe. I envision a school where everyone can be themselves, and other students don't demean others for being who they are. My third and final non-negotiable is, do not steal. Do not steal anything physically from the school, obviously, but also do not steal the students time. Be your best each and every day. You demand your students give 100% to their school work, and so should you. No student should have their time stolen because a teacher is either unprepared, or focused on something other than the children in his room at that moment. If the teachers adhere to these non-negotiables, then I belive we can work together to create a unique school with a motivated student body.
I have been placed in positions of school leadership in the past, and my style is best described as a Democratic leader. I believe that schools function most effeciently when all stakeholders are involved in the decision making process. As both a leader and an employee, I appreciate the camaraderie shared responsibility for decisions creates. Teachers will be my equals, giving their opinions in a free and valued format. As a Democratic leader I believe a hybrid of Servant and Distributive management style will build upon the trust and community created by the Democratic decision making process. I want the staff to truly feel their value, and that they have control over the school climate and working environment. I believe that anyone who enters the education profession wants to have a positive impact on children. I want my teachers to know that I trust their professionalism, will support them, and give them the tools they need to achieve student success.
I started my teaching career in 2007. I taught 7th and 8th grade Social Studies at Sun Valley Middle School in Indian Trail, NC. I became a member of the school's "Team 21" which was a group of teachers dedicated to self administered professional development to make our classrooms more global and technologically inclined. I was selected to serve as my schools Instructional Technology Model Teacher, where I would attend additional professional development, and in turn, provide professional development to teachers at my school. I was honored to be selected at my schools Teacher of the Year in 2011, and was a top five finalist for the district Teacher of the Year.
In 2012 I moved into an Instructional Technology Specialist position within my school district. I was assigned to one middle and high school to support the districts 1:1 chromebook program. I provided professional development and support to 160 teachers and staff. I also provided co-teaching opportunities to my teachers, and drop in tech help for 3000 students.
I was offered a job teaching High School history for LAUSD in 2014, so we moved from North Carolina to California. I taught in LAUSD for one year before coming to Oak Park USD this past August.
I believe this because I was not a good student in school, especially in math. I didn’t do much homework, but I passed the tests. That drove my teacher crazy. She always told us that the homework was practice so we could do well on the test. I made the point that I did well on the test without the homework. Since I didn’t need the practice, why do I need to do the homework?
I couldn’t figure out how math applies to my life. I never had the opportunity to see math in a real world setting. I never had the opportunity to work with my peers on difficult problems. There was no critical thinking. We came to class, took notes as she did the example problems and then went home did the problems from the textbook using our notes as a guide. Repeat every day except Friday when there was a test.
I finally had a math class in college that made me realize that math is both fun and relevant. The class was amazing, if I had his class when I was in High School, I might have a vastly different opinion of math. He would guide us to create the equations on our own, instead of taking notes from him. We would then use those equations in real life situations, like studying the structure of a bridge, for example.
I want to be like my college math teacher for my students. I want them to enjoy my class and it’s content. I believe that as long as I endeavor to give students to see and use the content imperatives in real world situations, then they will have not only a fuller understanding of the material, but be inspired to take control and become life-long learners.
Education prepares children to be successful in achieving their goals. A students educational experience should engage them in relevant real world activities that are rigorous and focus on collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. This engagement should be built into the culture of the school and evident in the curriculum and instruction. School leaders should endeavor to create an environment where knowledge is created and experienced by the students; not merely absorbed from the teacher.