What I've Learned (2008-2009)
After Joe McClung taught for his first school year, he was inspired to write a blog post about the school year. In his post he mentions what he learned throughout the year and how he conquered his mistakes. He has continued to write about every academic school year after his first post.
His first blog post really stuck out to me because he explained many challenges that new teachers face and how to overcome these situations. As a future educator, I believe it is important for every Education major to know what they will experience once they have a class of their own.
At the beginning of Mr. McClung's post, he has a picture stating that the most important decision to make when you begin teaching is to stay positive! Life may not always be easy, but it is manageable. How you react to the challenges that life brings determines the outcome of your growth. This same concept can be seen in your "life" as a teacher. Every teacher needs to be optimistic about their journey through the classroom.
Mr. McClung points out that many teachers do not have lesson plans that are student focused. In his opinion, many teachers get so caught up focusing on the delivery of their lesson that they forget about student comprehension. A teacher could give what they consider to be a "perfect" lesson and feel accomplished, but what does that lesson truly mean if the students do not understand it? It means nothing because no lesson is ever perfect. I loved the statement that Mr. McClung made about lesson plans. He said, "In order to be effective you have to be able to let your audience drive your instruction."
This statement caught my attention because no matter how much a teacher plans out a lesson, the students determine the outcome. In my opinion, as long as the teacher teaches the criteria that is required it does not matter what they have to do to help their students to comprehend. You may plan to play a game or go more in depth on a certain concept. But who is to say that every student will be enthralled with that specific concept? Or why would a teacher prevent his/her students from asking a question that goes more in depth on a concept other than the topic they had planned? It is our job as teachers to keep our students hooked on learning.
Throughout Mr. McClung's first year of teaching, he found seven key points to be very influential to his year. The first point he made was to "Read the Crowd." This idea goes back to the belief that no lesson is perfect. You have to be able to "read" your students to see if they are comprehending the lessons you create. He also says to "Be Flexible." By this, he means that teachers have to be prepared to make a spontaneous decision when necessary. If something goes wrong, teachers need to be able to work through the problem and make it better. This should be done with a positive attitude.
Another key step to a good school year is to "Communicate." Communication is the key to resolving problems. It keeps relationships strong and durable. However, this is one of the hardest skills to develop. But without communication, how would teachers be able to truly understand their peers and students?
According to Mr. McClung, teachers must also "Be Reasonable." As teachers, we are always going to have high standards and goals for our students. It is important not to get disappointed when our students fail. Our disappointment only makes the student feel like a failure. Instead, be uplifting and encourage the student to try again.
Another key point Mr. McClung mentions is "Don't Be Afraid of Technology." If there any of my classmates out there who are in EDM 310 and still haven't eased to the idea of using technology, I advise you to change your major now. No, I do not believe that every single lesson must be taught using technology, but I do believe that it is important that we incorporate the use of technology into the classroom because it is now a necessity for survival in our society. The high demand for technology that exist today makes it important for teachers to make sure their students now how to use it for beneficial purposes.
No classroom is adequate without a teacher who is willing to "Listen to Their Students." How do you expect to relate to your students if you do not listen to their needs and concerns? In my future classroom, I hope to not only establish trust between my students and I, but to also truly try to relate to their lives. Every student is different and unique. It is my job to help them find their strengths and encourage them to continue working to correct their weaknesses.
At the end of his post, Mr. McClung encourages other teachers to "Never Stop Learning." It is never too late to change the way you learn or correct the way you think. As teachers, we beg our students to keep learning and to never give up. Now, my question to you is, why should teachers stop learning? If we want to stay up to date with society and technology, we, as teachers, must continue to learn for ourselves.
What I've Learned This Year- Volume 4
In June, Mr. McClung posted about his fourth year of teaching. In his post he addressed two main themes to his school year. They are "You Have to Dance With Who You Brought to the Dance" and "Challenge Yourself".
The first thing I did when I saw "You Have to Dance With Who You Brought to the Dance" was re-read the theme and ask myself "What in the world does this mean?" After reading though, I discovered that Mr. McClung was using this theme as an illusion to make his point that teachers must remember they work for the students, not their peers. Over his previous school year, Mr. McClung confessed to having worried way too much about what his peers thought of his teaching style, rather than worry about what his students thought.
I can relate this concept to my own life right now and to my future. If I sat here and worried about what my peers thought about me, I would get no where. Not everyone will like you or agree with your beliefs. However, it is important to stay true to who you are for this is the true statement of integrity. Mr. McClung said that the one rule he always follows is, "Are the kids having fun?" After his past year, he left behind his fears and focused on being true to who he is.
The second theme that Mr. McClung told bloggers was to "Challenge Yourself." He believes that it is important to change your lesson plans up and stay creative. I agree with him that teachers cannot get too comfortable because it is real easy to get lazy. He encourages teachers to try something new. For example, he realized that he was beginning to get lazy because he was so comfortable with his class, so he decided to teach something new this year.
Overall, I am glad that Dr. Strange assigned the reading of Mr. McClung's post because they each include great advice. I cannot wait to begin my career as a teacher, and hearing others talk about their experiences only encourages me more.