Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Lose Touch

Recently, I received a comment from my friend Dr. Strange in regards to a blog post way back in December. The blog post that he commented on was a "thank you" post regarding our class blog being nominated for an Edublog Award. Now the fact that he left a comment is not the surprising part, but the point that he made in his commentary really spoke volumes to me. Here's what was said in my post....
With all the excitement expressed by my student, I thought I would share our nomination with all the faculty at Woodland...and their response was awesome. Received tons of positive feedback from many teachers in my building, many of whom didn't even know we had a class blog.
Here's what he said....
You certainly deserve the recognition and the award, as do all the people you mentioned in your post.

But I was disturbed when I read "many of whom didn't even know we had a class blog." Not surprised, just disturbed. How do we spread the world about how important blogging, and commenting on blogs is to learning? So that your fellow teachers not only know that your class and students are bloggers, but that they become bloggers, with their students blogging too.
His comment pointed out a very serious problem that I feel like exist in many schools. That is the fact that as teachers have problems getting outside their "box". Everyone knows that teachers are creatures of habit....generally speaking. One habit that has become customary is not leaving your own room. Many teachers feel like that their room is not just a room at all, instead it becomes their home away from home....in other words, it becomes their comfort zone. This mindset has developed into a very territorial approach to learning and learning spaces. Many educators take approach of this is my room, that's your room....stay out of mine, and I'll stay out of yours.

I feel like in order to be a better teacher that we have to get out of the classroom more often. We try to wall ourselves off from the rest of the school and I don't quite understand why. A perfect example of this territorial mindset of education would be the dreaded principal visit. For many teachers hearing that a principal will be visiting your room makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up....why? Are we scared of something?

When this visit happens we walk around like we are hiding something while quietly thinking in the back our head, "are they gone yet?" As teachers we need to get away from this way of thinking and realize that we should be proud of what we are doing in class. We need to be talking to other teachers, we should be hanging out in each others classrooms, we should be enjoying the company of fellow educators, and we should have a desire to show that what we are doing in our classroom is something that is special.

So, what do we have to lose by staying indoors? You may think that the fact that teachers are not visiting other classes and being "buddy buddy" with each is not a real issue. I feel like that this behavior/attitude is causing us to lose our passion. We need to realize that teachers throughout our own building are doing some really cool things and that these teachers can serve as great resources for learning best practices.

My first "real" job was a great example of teachers working together and sharing ideas. It was my first year teaching, I was paired with an excellent veteran teacher, I worked with another teacher that was also relatively new as well, and down the hall I had frequent meetings with a teacher that was innovative and passionate about his job. I learned so much from these three people because I was eager to learn something new. I could have easily just stayed in my room (during my first year), gone into survival mode, and attempted to get through my first year by myself....but because I was surrounded by passionate, supportive people I was able to excel as a first year teacher.

Lastly, we need to get out of our room because we need to practice what we preach. We harp on students all the time about being model citizens and teaching life skills. If we are not able to extend ourselves past the four walls of our classroom than we have no business teaching these qualities. Modeling is the best method of teaching and if our students see us communicating with each other, learning from each other, and cooperating together as a team then we are truly practicing what we preach. So once again, other teachers are doing some pretty cool things and you are as well....it would be a shame to not be excited about sharing these educational experiences with each other.

Mr. McClung


John Hadley Strange said...

As always, a very insightful post. I'll have my students read it and hope they will learn to get out of their classroom - and out of their old ideas about teaching and learning!

Wm Chamberlain said...

Until you came to Noel, there was zero interest in what I was doing with my classroom blog. Not only did you show interest, but you inspired me to push further (I couldn't let you pass me by!)

Now that you have gone, some teachers have shown an interest, but they don't have the passion and the day to day seems to sap their spark of interest.

I wonder how our school would be different today had you stayed, and I hope that at some point another teacher with your passion comes along to inspire me again.As great as having a PLN online is, it is a pale shadow of having someone to share with face to face.

jkmcclung said...

I really feel like a weirdo sometimes, because I will get really excited about something we are doing in class and I try to show it to someone else in my hall and they always seem underwhelmed or annoyed that I'm bugging them.

To me it seems like a no brainier that people would want to share their teaching experiences with each other, but for some reason majority of the teachers in my building don't feel the same way....I don't get it.