Friday, March 30, 2012

Blog Assignment 9

Looking up the trunk of a tree at the foliage above

Joe McClung's 'At the Teacher's Desk' 2008-2009

In Mr. McClung's post from the Fall 2008 - Spring 2009 school year, he talks about the many different things that he's learned to cope with, and things he's done in general to become a better educator. Things such as;

How to read the crowd. When he talks about reading the crowd, he means two things - firstly, that you should be paying more attention to students than how you are being percieved as you teach, and secondly, that with everything you do, your students will react in some way, and being able to tell if how you're going about trying to teach is working or not will be vital in providing a good learning environment for your students.

Be flexible. Many things in life don't go the way they were planned, and lesson plans and the like are no different. Even if you make mistakes, trying to make the best of an unideal situation and not letting it get to you is far better than beating yourself up all the time. Go with the flow!

Communication is the best medicine. Talking out problems with other educators (and students) can help to ease tension and build connections between people in order to cultivate a more efficient classroom.

Be reasonable. Instead of berating students for doing more poorly than you wanted them to, be supportive and try to motivate them to succeed. Having unrealistic expectations from students can hamper your ability to effectively teach. Try to pay attention to differences in your students and make adjustments when possible.

Don't be afraid of technology. The way students learn is ever changing, and technology is the new frontier in content dissemination. Using technology can help you in your teaching tasks, as well as help students learn.

Listen to your students. Education is about the student. Listening to what they've got to say can shed insight into their shortfalls and concerns, and help you be a better teacher by addressing those issues as they arise.

Never stop learning. This one seems simple enough. After all, how can you expect others to grow intellectually if you yourself don't do so as well? Being steadfast is beneficial in many things, but not education. Keep up with the times, or be left behind.

At the Teacher's Desk: 2009 - 2010

This post, like the one before, outlined the many things Mr. McClung learned as he taught students in Junior High. He faced many challenges that he could never have foreseen without actually going through them, and he does a great job of chronicling his realizations, and what he does to correct the problems he comes across;

Adapt. Although he was thrown a few curve balls - having to teach 3 subjects, which he had little experience in, as well as teaching Junior High students - he did what he could to make his classroom fun and engaging. Being too rigid in his teaching method would not have allowed him to cultivate an effective learning environment - but by recognizing that he needed to change a few things, and changing them, he kept his classroom relevant.

Take the road less travelled. Teaching a subject whose discussions could lead any which way, he had to adopt the mindset that those discussions could go any way, and he would need to provide a non-biased point of view. In doing so, he could promote independent thinking in his classroom - which is important in ANY subject.

Find your school Mom. By this, Mr. McClung means find someone who knows what's supposed to be going on, and seek advice from them if necessary. Making connections with those who know how things work in that particular school can help you follow established norms and guidelines. This really goes back to Networking 101; by helping others, they will in turn help you. I don't know about you, but having others to depend on in a pinch can be lifesaving.

Check your ego at the door. Societal pressures nowadays tend to discourage being overly enthusiastic about things... But if we don't let ourselves loose in the classroom and really get into what we're talking about, how can the students tell we're interested in that subject? In many scenarios, showing interest in something helps others to be excited, and in turn become interested in it themselves.

Don't be a control freak. Instead of driving yourself crazy by trying to do every little thing, have students do some of those things for you. It not only takes some strain off of you, but it helps keep their attention, and gives them ownership of some of those tasks.

Scope and sequence. Make sure to be consistent in how you teach and assess subjects. If you go in depth on a subject, don't just skim the surface of that subject when you're testing your students. Go as in depth in your assessments as you did in your instruction.

Don't lose sight of what's important. While it can be easy to be sidetracked in the classroom by things outside of it, don't let things hamper the way you instruct your students. They're the most important thing, and you shouldn't let anything stop you from doing your best for them.

It's what you learn after you know it all that matters. This goes with the last point of the previously outlined post - strive to continue to learn and grow professionally. Honestly assess yourself, identify your issues, and address them. By doing so, you'll become a better educator.

In summation...

All of these things are worthwhile to learn in and of themselves; however, there is a broader lesson to be gained from this. As you, the educator, look outward towards your students to help them grow and learn, take the time to look inwardly, at yourself, to see where you yourself need a little work. No one is perfect, and by acknowledging this and taking active steps to fix your shortcomings, you can strive always to be better, to improve. Not for yourself, though... for your students.


  1. Replies
    1. Hey, thanks! Mr. McClung really drives it home how important it is to look at yourself once and a while. I don't think many teachers do that, and as a result, students suffer - which is most unfortunate. I wish EVERY teacher would look at themselves once in a while and really think about what they could do to change things that don't help students into things that do.

  2. Daniel,
    Excellent job! You did a great job summarizing the post and also your conclusion was right on the money! I really enjoyed reading Mr. McClungs blog. Keep up the good work!