Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Fill up your Teacher Toolbox

Lately, may of my postings have been rants and gripes against CTA/NEA. I guess it is time to write something more positive and something that might be of use to new teachers or something to think about for experienced teachers.

With this new school year just starting, are you starting out this year doing the same things you have done for the past 20 years? Looking back to when I started teaching full-time years ago, I had very little in my "teacher toolbox". What was there were a few of the ideas from my teacher ed. stuff, mostly from the 'how to teach secondary reading" class and a few lessons from student teaching. But above all else, I knew I needed a whole lot more in my teacher toolbox. There was not nearly enough in it to help me be an effective teacher. I knew I did not want to be the kind of teacher I had occasionally experienced as a high school student, if today is day 4 of the unit, students need to do worksheet 4 (while teacher reads newspaper).

Anyhow, I stumbled my way through year one of teaching. My principal apparently had a lot of confidence in my abilities because in year two, he assigned me to teach five different high school classes! That year, I taught Biology, Earth Science, World History, Free Enterprise (Economics) and Journalism. IT kept me busy. It was also heavily text oriented, as I taught in a very rural school with the closest university being about a four hour drive and many of my fellow teachers were not too forthcoming sharing with their materials and I just didn't have that much in my teacher toolbox. But, I did add to my teacher toolbox. I tried to read professional teacher journals and publications, I attended summer school, and was always in search of new ideas. The message of this writing today is, KEEP adding to your teacher toolbox. Keep searching for new (for you) ideas on how to best teach the students you have. Don't stagnate, keep yourself as up to date as possible. Try to attend professional teacher conferences offered by the National and state Council's for the Social Studies, Science, Math, English teachers, etc., these are super for sharing of ideas and learning about what is available out there for your use in your classroom. And, whether or not your fellow teachers share 'stuff' with you, share with them what new ideas you think might be good for your students.
what if you end up with filing cabinets and boxes full of teaching 'stuff.' Most of the good teachers I know have tons of this 'stuff' in their teacher toolbox.
Of course, help yourself know what you have, label everything, put it in binders, save it on a computer disc, it doesn't do you any good if you don't know what you have in your teacher toolbox.

Our kids we teach year to year are similar in that most are curious, eager to learn and please their teachers, moan over homework, complain about school lunch.....but at the same time, our students are not the same as when we began teaching. When I began back in the mid 1980's, MTV still played music videos, no one had electronic games hooked up to their TV, no one had home computers and the internet. I cannot be the teacher I was in 1984. My students are not those I taught in 1984.

Keep filling that teacher toolbox, you never know when a 'tool' you have will come in handy.

I hope your Labor Day holiday was a relaxing one! Thanks for reading my blog. As always, I welcome your comments!