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.