Sunday, March 24, 2013
Blog Post #9
Mr. McClung is an educator and now administrator that regularary shares his thoughts on teaching and students in his blog, At The Teacher's Desk. Mr. McClung is now the assistant principal of an elementary school after being a teacher for four years, and spending three years at the same school. Mr. McClung is a teacher that I would love to have, he wants his student to love learning and his goal is to make school enjoyable. We all have a lot to learn from him. His idea of writing a reflection after every year is an awesome idea and something I think I will start after this semester even as a student in school to be an educator. What an awesome way to look back and see what you have learned and how you have grown as an educator and person.
The first reflection of Mr. McClung’s that I read to was for the 2008 to 2009 school year. Mr. McClung makes some really good points that I need to consider as a future young teacher. This was his first year teaching and he reflects on what he learned throughout the school year. Several of the points that really stood out to me were to be flexible, be reasonable, and to listen to your students.
Lesson plans do not always go as planned and neither does life in general, so being flexible is a key to success in education. When I think of being flexible in the classroom the example I think of most is my AP Calculus teacher in high school. We were very limited on time and he had every day’s lesson planned out, but there were numerous times when we got to class and did not understand the homework from the night before. Each time he would take the time to explain and reteach the material. This ate up the time he had for the lesson plans for the day, but I learned more from him than most other teachers because he was flexible and made sure that we knew material, even if it meant his hard work on lesson plans went out the door. One of the best ways to be flexible is to take your cues from your students; if they need more work on one subject then spend that time on that topic and alter your other activities or more them to another day.
One of my favorite quotes from Mr. McClung’s first reflection is “Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.” This is such a true statement because out students will not always succeed or reach our expectations. It is silly to think that every one of our students will be able to master reading by the end of first semester in kindergarten. Being reasonable also goes along with tailoring your expectations to fit each individual child. Positive encouragement and praise in the classroom is important, but so is constructive criticism. You must have a balance in order to prepare students for the future, but also encourage them to not give up.
The people that have the biggest impact on my life and that I am more willing to take suggestions from are those that listen to me first. By listening to your students you are showing that you care. Students are more willing to take interest in anything we say if we first show interest in their own lives. You may be the only sturdy person in their life at that point and they may need someone to simply ask how their morning was. The simplest gestures can show a student that you are listening and you care about them as a person and not just their education. The students that are the hardest to reach are sometimes the ones that need someone to listen the most. Be receptive to your students and what is going on in their lives. It has a huge impact on their behavior and how/what they learn. I desire to be the teacher that the students enjoy coming to my classroom because I make learning interesting and intriguing, but that I show I care about them as a person and have a relationship with each student.
The next post of Mr. McClung’s that I read was his reflection from this past school year, 2011-2012. In this post Mr. McClung focuses on defining himself and challenging himself. I really got a lot out of this post as well.
Mr. McClung made a very good point when he says that the kids are what matters to him and if they are having fun learning. As he said he committed a junior high crime and was worried about what his peers and colleagues thought of him as a teacher. It took him most of the year, but he realized that it did not really matter what they thought, only if the students were enjoying learning. This really hit me hard because even as a student, I worry about what my family and those that are close to me think of me going to school to become a teacher. Teachers are extremely important for our future and that of our own children, but I come from a family that is mainly in the medical or engineering field. I will be the first on both sides of my family to enter into the world of education. This post made me realize that I am not doing this for anyone else, but each one of my future students.
Another profound statement that Mr. McClung makes is “My goal as an educator is to do everything I can to ensure that students enjoy class and not resent school as I did as a child.” He took on a new challenge of teaching a Pre-AP course. Many times the material for these courses are harder and the course itself is more rigid because it is the very step below a college level course and in many ways resembles one. Mr. McClung challenged himself by not only taking on this new material, but making this course enjoyable. AP courses are many times seen as the hardest and least enjoyable in a high school, but he wanted to change that. I had a teacher similar to that during my senior year and I looked forward to going to his class each day. I do not want to get into a routine of teaching the same material over and over again and become so comfortable I do not want to start anything new. I want to challenge myself to stay current on what the students are enjoying outside of school and tailor my activities to fit their interest. This requires more work on my part, but if my students will learn more than it will be worth every bit!
I really enjoyed reading Mr. McClung’s blog posts and have added him to my PLN as well.