There is a lot to learn from each other. How I Teach is a segment of ELAOKTeachers.com determined to highlight the best practices of innovative Oklahoma educators.
School/Location: Okay High School
Subjects or Responsibilities: Principal (I used to be a Spanish teacher at Wagoner High School. I will respond based on my classroom experience as well as my experience as a principal.)
One word that best describes how you teach: Integrity (Goal: Waste not one minute, one resource, one opportunity, etc.)
1. How do you relate to your students?
I take time to get to know them. We invest in each other on a personal level and infuse instruction. Ideally, students often times will learn without realizing they are learning.
2. What apps/tools/resources can’t you teach without?
An LCD projector and screen or SmartBoard.
3. How is your classroom organized?
Desks were in a horseshoe-type pattern with the open part in the middle of the room, leading to the door. This allowed for quick and effective foot traffic flow, and no student was ever separated from me by more than two students. That is to say, there was not a distant back row.
4. What’s your best time-saving trick?
Trade and grade. Yes, it’s legal! Students would grade each others’ work. Reteaching would occur as necessary, immediately, based on the results of grading.
5. What daily activity are you better at than anyone else?
Effective Routine. That is strategically running a classroom so that, role is taken and entered in the first five minutes of each period, bell work is given and graded, assignments are graded, a lesson with literacy is presented, guided practice and independent practice are regularly done, all grades are entered, and all of that is done by the dismissal bell each hour, virtually every hour.
6. Are you more of an introvert of an extrovert?
7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From the retired Marine officer who taught next door to me, he said “If you are not getting shot at, it only gets better from there.” Meaning, unless life or limb is in danger, don’t take things too seriously. I have seen teachers upset over little things, like a student not having an assignment completed, a student who threw a rock on the playground, etc. These are things that need to be addressed, but many teachers get upset like I would be if someone set fire to my new truck. Sometimes we just need to take it down a notch.
Fill in the blanks
1. I’d love to meet “too many key leaders to name” for coffee and talk about “what I call education’s many disconnects and discuss how to fix them.”
Going off into left field, President Kennedy put together a group of the “best and brightest” advisors. They were highly educated, well dressed, and seemed to be a group who was proud of themselves and their recommendations. In fact, they had some good ideas, such as making a single service rifle standard for all military branches. This streamlined training, maintenance, parts, orders, ammunition, etc. This was a good idea. However, they also recommended that like the common service rifle, all branches of the service should have the same shoes. Like the rifles, this would streamline production, lower price due to bulk purchases, etc. However, the Navy needed a more slip resistant sole than the other branches because sailors often walk on wet surfaces (ships in the ocean). Without getting input from the end user / operator / people who would actually have to use the new product or method, what seemed like ingenious ideas were sometimes just that, and were sometimes blunders. Getting back to education there are many endeavors that, at some level, are good ideas meant for improvement that end up being headaches with little perceived value. There are also good ideas that are helpful. In the end, the genius theories and policies should (in my opinion) intertwine with the input of practitioners in order to be as successful as possible.
2. My definition of creativity is….
…finding what works for a given school or situation, using and implementing the practice(s) or product(s) effectively. Anyone can purchase a product, but customizing something in order to be as effective as possible is true creativity.
3. My bucket list would include…
I could list a lot of things here. From a personal perspective, being the best daddy I can be to my little girl (Abigail Elizabeth) who is due in December would be toward the top.
From a professional perspective, although I have many ideas and goals, more than anything else, I want to strengthen all of my students so that they can be as successful as possible as they enter the post-secondary world. I want to know that I have made them both strong and prepared as they work toward their respective pursuits of happiness.
I know these things may not be the typical “write it down and check it off” type items, but taking care of children and helping people grow and improve is quite frankly more important to me than many other items I might put on a bucket list.
- What aspects of Mark’s teaching philosophies do you find most significant?
- What ideas can you adopt to improve your education practices?