On a dreary November afternoon, a young man of 16 years is about to attempt to claim a small bit of freedom. I was the last appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles before they leave for their holiday break. I was sitting in my parents early nineties Oldsmobile and a man in a uniform approached. He introduced himself as an officer, and it happened this last name was synonymous with the hind end of an animal. It was all over. I didn’t even get out of the parking lot. Needless to say, I eventually earned my driver’s license. I returned to my preparatory studies, relearned information and continued to practice driving. Once I had mastered skills, I returned to the DMV and left successful.
The general principles involved in my triumphant trip to the DMV are the basis for this website. This website was not designed to be about a step by step manual to become a teacher to a test. Learning will create achievement. This website is designed to begin conversation about a needed shift in educational philosophy. A shift towards learning, refusal to accept anything but learning, regardless of the number of times a teacher must intervene to cause learning. A shift away from what has become a traditional view of teaching as using assessment as an end product. A shift away from “we are moving on with or without you because I have to get the curriculum in before the test.” A shift towards the art of teaching that when understood creates learning, and learning will become student achievement.
Think of what you find here and work on here, as a way to introduce and retrain your view on what education can become for the communities we serve. Students will meet the expectations set forth by the teacher. Mr. Jared Reck, a contributor to the website, and I have felt many students who present challenges in the classroom do so because they are underwhelmed with their teachers. The students don’t want teachers to explain how the class has been made easier, they want the opposite. Challenge each student to become the best version of themselves – they may fight you along the way, but in the end many of the most challenging students will become your biggest supporters. So make the course more challenging, focused on relationships, students, and teach the students how to succeed. I find the mental shift most easily associated with many cliques used all the time in coaching: if you fall down get right back up and try again, get back in the ring, get back on the horse, and learn from your mistakes. I even teach my own children that “can’t” is not a word to use in our house. Yet very often in education, when students make mistakes or fail we move on due to fill in your reason here. The list seems endless. Essentially, the reason is often a cop-out; a rationale we have created to explain why the outcome is expectable. Students do it all the time – I just can’t, I never learned this, it’s too hard, and so on. And where do we think students have learned this skill – from the adults that surround them, parents and teachers.
I was recently asked in an interview for an article to describe my educational philosophy. My answer: I love what I do and try to be the best version of myself every moment of the day and hope that I can encourage others to do the same. If we are all trying to be the best versions of ourselves – that sounds like a pretty good place to be. My hope is that as we work together on this website we can inspire you to become the best practitioner possible.