Thursday, December 24, 2009

Life at Santa Fe Trail High School - Part 1

It has been some time since I last wrote on the blog about my first year teaching experiences, and I think it's time for an update! I've had a lot of interesting experiences this year, and I have to say that I have been having a very good year. While there are a lot of reasons for this, a few stand out.

1) Three Lakes Educational Coop, the district I work for, has proven to be a good district to work for. I have enjoyed my fellow colleagues who work there as they have been very helpful this year in keeping me up to speed on the various requirements my students call for. Their support has really helped me stay calm about all the ins and outs of being an Interrelated Teacher, and I feel that my job could be a lot harder if it weren't for them.

2) Part of being a new teacher is attending multiple New Staff Orientation inservices. Currently, we are working on a book by Fred Jones Ph.D., a clinical pshychologist called Tools for Teaching. This book has been an amazing resource for me and how I approach each day, and here's why. They are simple. There is no need to remember a whole bunch of steps or overly practice the techniques--in fact, most often the only things you need to do is to stay calm and in many cases, when students are being obnoxious, say nothing and calmly but blankly (think Queen Victoria) look them between the eyes and watch them back to work. It's taken some practice, but I have found that it works very well for me. Here's his website for more info. I will see what I can do about putting some excerpts from his videos/book on my school wiki, in the upcoming "Teacher's Lounge" page.

One of my main concerns coming into this year was whether or not Santa Fe Trail would be receptive to using technology in the classroom. Overall, my concern has been laid to rest. I have really had an amazing time with my kids, teaching them how to use various components of technology from making their own videos from scratch on sites like to showing them how to do advanced editing functions on Microsoft Office, to making their own website with My students have really enjoyed doing these things, and it has helped me be at ease about doing things differently. I can actually tell that they are learning by using the information to create things that are completely unique and interesting. These are the kinds of things that make history relevant and interesting to kids, because they get to control how it looks, and they get to see firsthand, why the things that happen in history are important. Pretty cool if you ask me.

I have also been asked to join both the Santa Fe Trail District and the Three Lakes Educational Cooperative's Technology Committee, and have enjoyed demonstrating technology and it's applications to the classroom to folks who really take an interest in these things. Being accepted as part of these committees is no small thing in my opinion because it shows that at least the two districts are receptive to new and brighter ways of doing things. Also, it will be interesting to see what kind of changes we will be able to facilitate for the two districts in the next few years.

Finally, I have just completed my first semester of grad school at Emporia State University. It went by really fast, and spring semester starts before you know it. It will be interesting to see how things go. I am taking two courses next semester and then I'll be full-time during the summer. If you are curious about how their distance education grad program works, feel free to let me know. The ESU website is really well laid out so any questions you have can be found either through the grad program link or by searching for it in the search bar.

Well, that's all for now. Happy Holidays!

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