EDM 310 Class Blog

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blog Post #9

Mr. McClung's post "What I've Learned This Year" cites his reflections on his struggles, achievements and acquired insight from his first year of teaching. He starts off by talking about the place he came to teach at, how little experience he had with teaching, and how much he has grown. In the next section he reflects back on his teaching philosophy in college, and how he learned that it is about his audience, not him, the ringmaster of the circus known as the elementary school classroom. I spent my observation hours in a Kindergarten class, I can bear witness to his claim that, "While we as instructors like to plan "perfect" lessons, we have to remember that we are performing in front of a crowd the struggles remembering what they brought for lunch that day." Although I will be teaching High School English, they are still, for the most part, learning things that are entirely new concepts for them, or concepts that have been somewhat bludgeoned into their brains since they were no more than toddlers who could barely recall what was in their Power Rangers lunchbox, like McClung's youngsters.  These concepts are ones that I will have to think outside the box on to make them somewhat new.
 I agree with his point that we have to remember our audience, read our crowd, and let the anxiety of impressing the older, more seasoned teachers be more of an added bonus instead of a focus. After all, they are not the ones who are spending hours under our instruction. They are not the target of our lesson plans, efforts, and skill assessment. They are not neccesssarily our future...at least not as much as our children.
He goes on to talk about being flexible, mentioning that he had his own way he wanted things done, as we all do, and had to realize that things don't always pan out like we expect.
This is something that we, as future educators, will have to keep in mind, whatever our subject or grade level. Just because you put in the effort does not mean it will work out. You can't try to control the outcome too much, you have to take in feedback and re-tailor your efforts to the abilities of your students, their demographic, your time allotted etc. If there is anything I have learned from the classroom I spent time in, it is to be realistic. Just because your lesson plan seems fool-proof, does not mean that it will work. He advises to stay positive when this happens, to work around your mistakes and learn from them and to "always keep a smile on your face!" Stay calm! They can sense your fear!!
He talks next about establishing good communication skills in order to also establish a "good rapport" with your fellow teachers. This, to me, is one of the most intimmidating. There are always going to be older, more seasoned teachers who think they know everything (and possibly do, I'm not disputing that..) and act like it. Talking to them with a tone of respect while still not allowing them to also sense your fear, to me, will be hard. I sometimes find it hard taking advice from others; my toes feel a little stepped on when someone tries to give advice without being asked. I know people mean well but it's hard to determine when they do and when they're just being a know-it-all.
Also, being reasonable is another piece of advice he gives. I can remember being in high school and having absolutely no confidence in myself, much less my academic abilities. It was that one or two teacher(s) who did not let me give up on myself, feel pity, make excuses, and sell myself short that helped me get an A in their class when I really did not expect to. It makes me think of the part of Dr. Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" video where he talked about the coach that kept critiquing him, and he said that when people stop pushing you to try even harder, they have stopped caring. I can see how it would be difficult to maintain a good balance between this and having too high expectations for your students. Some will meet your expectations and then some, whereas others may not. If our goals are too high, as Mr. McClung points out, we set them up for disappointment. As I am very tender-hearted, I don't think I could stand seeing a student disappointed. I know I would be right there, telling them to keep trying until they would succeed, while still waiting in the wings to step in if needed.
He goes on from there to talk about technology in the classroom. Something we are all becoming quite familiar with in EDM310! Before, I might not really have considered incorporating technology into my English class, being a "tech-literate" teacher, but now...I am already starting to develop my own ideas for lesson plans using some of the technologies we are learning about!
In order to reach your students, you have to listen to them. I can't imagine doing anything without listening to other people. My mom has always been one of the best listeners I know and shown, by her example, that a caring person pays attention to what other people are saying. I can't imagine being a teacher who takes complete charge without letting my students have a say, talk about what they are reading, and speak up if they feel like they are in over their head. The modern student in today's "microwave society", as Mr. McClung terms it, is used to communicating; whether it be through texting, facebook, email, or Skype, their opinions get heard. Not allowing them that right would be crippling. They need to know that they are relevant and that their education is relevant to them as well.
His last admonition is that we never stop learning, as educators.  Just because we are the sources of knowledge, does not mean that we know everything.  I certainly don't think I ever will know everything. There is always something to learn.  There is always room to grow.  I believe that we are never actually at our absolute best; we can always get better.  Just because we achieve our goals does not mean that we have achieved perfection.  There is always room for improvement.

Here is an image Mr. McClung shared on his blog that inspired me:

stay positive

It inspired me to create my own:
Never Stop Trying


  1. I really liked your picture and your post. Thorough, thoughtful, well written!

    And Mr. McClung never stops trying as you can see from our in depth look at his teaching this week.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Strange! I am glad to hear that I am doing well. I am really enjoying writing about the things we are learning in EDM310. And yes, you are definitely right; he seems to always be keeping up with his students and continually coming up with newer and better ideas for his class and blog!