Questions For a New Teacher

This coming week I have been asked to speak to a group of preservice teachers back at my old college, North Central College in Naperville, IL. I have been given a blank slate as to what I am allowed to talk about. With that in mind I decided to take my recent post, Letter to First Year Teacher Me, and develop it into a prezi. Here is the result...


16 comments:

Mike Curtis said...

I wish I'd seen something like this when I was starting out. It doesn't give all the answers, but gets you thinking about all the right questions. Sadly, too few administrators understand all that you preach, because learning isn't on the ISAT.

Neal Erickson said...

The right questions... exactly. I have been through a ton of administrators. Even the best one didn't engage teachers, especially new ones, with these kinds of questions. Even after 15 years these questions should be front and center in every teacher's mind.

MSeigel said...

Thank you for this. I have a student observe for the next 2 months and it is shocking on much theory she knows and how little it will actually apply to her teaching. I was telling her about your previous post, but will be sending her a link to this right now. It will definitely give us a lot to talk about this week. I hope she shares this with the rest of her class as well.

Kimberley Rivett said...

Excellent post and prezi. I think EVERY teacher should view this and consider those questions. Thanks for sharing such a challenging view of who we are and what we do as educators. Accountability is the one thing we should always consider.

Mr. Little said...

I think it looks great! The only thing I would add would be something about change... being flexible. I think we're all passionate, idealistic educators, and want to do it OUR way. Then, the reality of teaching kicks in. Lessons change, policies change. Heck, even your teaching duties change!

I think this is implied with your entire post and idea of "Letter to First Year Me," but you HAVE to change in this profession, and have to do it enthusiastically. Otherwise, students suffer.

Lisa Michelle Dabbs said...

Nicely done! Most of the questions you pose have been talked about through tons of hours over the last year on New Teacher Chat #ntchat. If you check our archives you'll see hundreds of responses to those same questions and then some.http://newteacherchat.wikispaces.com/
I too have presented on this topic and will continue to. It's compelling and needs to be supported. Here's a link to my preso for ASCD. http://www.ascd.org/professional-development/webinars/lisa-dabbs-webinar.aspx
Best to you on your preso!

Tasneem said...

Not only did you bring up important points about conducting oneself as future educators but threw out the some of the very ideology of teaching in universities today. The very essence of “why am I here “? If that is one question, people can answer upfront in any profession then we would be far better off as country. I hope that like many of the first year teachers, I have the courage to face the odds and changing tide in teaching

Melissa said...

Thanks for presenting, Josh! We really appreciated your willingness to come and speak with everyone. That, and everyone who attended has been raving not only about the presentation, but how you presented. Thanks again!

Stuart Jamie said...

"Why did you become a teacher? If your answer doesn't include kids, you should stop now."

That's a bit like telling a French pastry chef to stop now if his answer doesn't include 'croissants'. What do you mean by it? Possibly that we should only teach for the benefit of kids - but that just defines the job, doesn't it?

A good teacher might hate kids - which is fine, as long as the teaching is good, surely?

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Stuart,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I think you are way off by saying "A good teacher might hate kids - which is fine, as long as the teaching is good, surely?" How can a teacher create a feeling of safety and rapport if they hate kids? I am not sure hating kids and being a good teacher can be in the same sentence. I am not sure comparing pastries to kids is a fare comparison to make either.

The point I am making is if everything you are doing along with the decisions you are making are not with the intent of helping students...then why are you doing it?

Danielle said...

This presentation just answered a lot of questions that I have. I am also a preservice teacher who really has not had anyone answer these kinds of questions. Another person posted that they have a student teacher who knows a lot about theory and can't apply it. I completely agree with that. I feel like as a student learning to teach, you need to be learning hands on and practical information. I agree that you need to teach because of kids, and you can't be a good teacher if you hate kids! Thank you for sharing this useful information!

Stuart Jamie said...

Unlike you Josh and Melissa I can quite easily imagine a hypothetical teacher who is good at his job because he knows his subject inside out, can explain it clearly and whose pupils hang on his every word - and who doesn't like children. Not liking them doesn't stop him doing his job well.

You don't need to teach because of kids, Melissa. You will be valued by your employer if you do a good job. The extent to which you like or dislike kids is irrelevant.

Josh: "The point I am making is if everything you are doing along with the decisions you are making are not with the intent of helping students...then why are you doing it?"

Isn't this part of the definition of a good teacher? You don't need to like them to help them. Let me extend my unfair comparison - a pastry chef doesn't need to like croissants to be able to make the best ones in town.

Stuart Jamie said...

Apologies - for Melissa in my comment above, read Danielle.

Enjoying the blog.

Stuart.

Mrs. T said...

Ditto...great questions! I especially agree with Neal...these are questions we should reflect on often. I especially like the ones about not 'managing' a classroom. How many times do people complain with their boss micromanages them!

Cheers,
Terri

Tina said...

I would just like to contest a few things. Extra credit? I had this discussion in one of my graduate school classes. I can tell that you are a proponent of standards based grading. I don’t see a problem giving an appropriate amount of extra credit. It should not be allowed to change a letter grade. I don’t see anything harmful about allowing students to develop something that demonstrates a genuine understanding of the material though a true application of their knowledge. Perhaps they missed it the first time around, and they needed more time to master the material than other students. Perhaps they needed to demonstrate their knowledge in a different way than was structured through your assessment.

Different people have different opinions on what a grade should be representative of. I, myself, do believe that responsibility and preparedness should be included in a grade. We are not only teaching our students how to be mathematicians, scientists, or experts in any given content area, but we are also teaching students life skills. Students need to learn how to be responsible. Coming to class prepared is important to learn because it prepares students for life responsibilities outside of the classroom. I do not believe that it should be weighted heavily, but I do believe it is important to include in student grades.

Another thing, how do you reinforce mathematics and physics without homework? There are some things that cannot be learned without a good amount of repetition and practice. Perhaps the amount of homework should be limited, but I do believe retention especially for math is dramatically affected by the presence of required homework on a daily basis.

Science Teacher Resources said...

Josh, I like your philosophy on homework, and life in general to be honest. I admire your stand on homework, although I'm not quite there. I've been reading and researching some alternative methods recently, and homework is something I have a huge problem with. The problem is that I teach in Korea, where the kids don't do much other than study! Its easy for me to just assign homework (intending for it to be meaningful) to give them extra practice. But to be honest, I'd be doing them a huge favor in multiple ways if I just waited until next class. First of all, I'm not so naive as to think that my chemistry and physics is the most important thing in their lives. More often than not, I'm just causing them to dislike to discipline! Not only that, but Korean students are placed under so much pressure and work by parents and society, that they don't get to be kids enough! I'd rather give less homework, even if it means not getting through quite as much material, if it keeps the students' interest and motivation for what we do cover. Thanks for the insights.