Monday, September 3, 2007

Noticing Some Major Differences in Myself

I have had some paradigm shifts in the last 6 months that have changed a tremendous amount about how I am approaching teaching this year. I'll try to put them down on paper, or zeroes and ones as it is known today, and see if I can express what I feel motivating me every day.

1. I no longer focus on learning my content as much as how to deliver it. I have 100's of history books, geography resources, war volumes, even the lonely economics book in my collection, but I haven't picked any of them up in awhile. I used to read those books so I could get MORE info to share with my kids, as well as broaden my understanding of social studies ideas. Not saying that I won't shift back to reading those things, but right now I spend all my time learning Web 2.0 tools and software programs to deliver that material. This new focus stems from another shift, or crack, or some might say break in my mind.

2. Im no longer going to blame kids for my course failure rate. This is a hard thing to say out loud (can you say something out loud when writing it down?) since it correctly implies that I have blamed kids in the past. I had a 50% failure rate across my 3 courses in the final semester last year. That does not include the other 25% that dropped out or were removed from my classes. The average person failing received less than 10% of all the points in the course. That means that the kids failing just weren't trying. They weren't doing ANYTHING! The last couple years I just figured the rates were like this because our school was known as a place where kids could sleep in, work only if they felt like it, and fall between the cracks when they wanted too, and they did. But I put the emphasis on them, I blamed them for not completing their work, for not organizing their course work schedule, for not motivating themselves, but something has changed. Im holding myself MORE responsible because I know there is a lot MORE I could do to communicate, motivate, and help them organize which are the crucial factors to success in an online environment. Especially for teenagers.

3. Im no longer relying on the face to face component of our hybrid model as the save all. Ive believed incorrectly that if I tracked my online students down when they came into their homeroom courses once a week, I could help them with their problems and get them going on their work. Yeah right. First of all, its rare that a struggling student shows up every week so its hard to keep regular contact that way. Also, its impossible to help all your online kids the way they need to be helped in the few minutes you can actually sit with them in their homerooms. Besides how logistically difficult it is to help kids face to face, one time a week, there is also the idea that we are an online school and I believe in online learning.

4. I love working. I spend a lot of time doing it because, and here is the kicker, Im learning MORE than I ever have before.

5. Individualized instruction for all kids, not just those that have mandates.

i can do MORE

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