Well this is the end of our ED 200 class. It has been a difficult term for many of you. I want to congratulate you for persevering through the challenges.
As you know, much of what we do in this class is develop some of our background understanding about teaching, learning, classrooms, and schools. This exploration will, of course, never end if you become a teacher. The things we covered are things that teachers think about a lot.
You have also been learning some of the discourse (or language) that is spoken in the schooling community. Your familiarity with what we have been learning in this class will provide you with some of the background knowledge to help you be more successful when you take other teacher education classes. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to learn, and the more you will remember when you are learning. You know that already. So if you are still planning to become a teacher, read as much about teaching and learning as you can. Watch as many education/schooling videos as you can. You can be one of those ‘start’ student teachers when you are doing your student teaching.
I mentioned that I would try to answer any questions that any of you had. Let me know that here:
How will I know if I am going into the right teaching grade level?
This is a question that many students grapple with. When you have limited experience working with students of various ages, it is not always easy to know what the best age group to teach would be. This is one of the reasons we ask that students applying for the Education Licensure program have at least 60 hours in school settings. While this is a bit difficult right now, by the time you are ready to apply I am sure schools will be functioning again. Always try to spend time observing in different age classrooms. Think about the interactions between the teacher and students. Imagine yourself working with those particular age students. Also, talk with teachers as much as you can. Ask them what they like about the grade they are teaching. Find out the good and the challenging. Find out what they love about their job. You would be surprised how many similarities there are between early elementary students and high school students. Size of student isn’t always a good indicator of what your relationship with your students will be. As a teacher and mentor, you will always be aware that students of all ages have their own personalities, their vulnerabilities, and their own passions. We are all human and quite often size and age mean little.
What changes have you seen in the education and what changes do you see coming?
I started first grade in 1966 (as a student, not as a teacher). Through all of my years as a student, university student, and teacher, the changes are not as grand as one might think. We the institution of schooling remains political and steeped in educational teaching and learning theories that have changed little over the last 50 years. Even though we do have a good deal more understanding of how the brain learns, change is slow in schools. And there are enormous influences by business that relies on keeping things the same. The publishing industry has an enormous influence on schooling practices that we see in the way of content and testing. Those with vested interests also have the money to lobby our politicians and we see programs enacted in schools because of that influence. What do I see coming? The research in embodied learning is be influential. And, whether we like it or not, technology will continue to slowly shift practice.
What tips do you have for future teachers?
The best tips I have for you at this point in your career is to read as much as you can. Take control of your own education and ensure that you are always learning — not simply memorizing for a test. Learn in ways that you will be able to have knowledge of what is going on in the world. Learn so that you are more perceptive. Learn so that you will be able to contribute to the conversations, whatever those conversations might be.
Who is your greatest influence?
My dad. He was an elementary school principal. We spend many hours talking about schooling. And I spent many hours just hanging around in his school. He had a way of always helping out the students who struggled in school. He had a special affinity for the underdog. Another influence was a professor in my first university English class. She pulled me aside on day and told me I was functionally illiterate and I had no business being in university. Because of her words, I worked very hard for the next three years and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English. People can influence you in different ways.
What is required to enter the teacher licensure program? What is is like?
If you go to the Education main page:
you will find lots of information regarding the different teaching programs. You will see the variety of classes you will take, as well as what is required to apply for the program. The teaching licensure program at Western Oregon University is a very well known and highly respected teacher educator program. This university actually started as a teacher training institute.
If you could go back in time and change your career to anything other than teaching, would you? If so, what would you change into?
One of my problems is that I find almost everything interesting. I could have enjoyed being an English professor, or a recording engineer, or an airline pilot, or a carpenter, or just about anything else that comes my way. In my past I have worked road construction as a heavy equipment operator; I have worked on the oil rigs, in a gas plant, and building houses. I enjoyed all of these jobs. But few jobs have ever given me as much satisfaction as teaching.
Can the same principles of nature schools be applied to secondary schools, not just early ed? I feel like that would have a great impact on secondary ed and it could also carry through the principles of those early ed nature schools, it could really cement those concepts.
There are outdoor schools for students of any age, and in many different configurations. I think the outdoors have a great deal to offer students. One thing for you to keep in mind is that if you have an interest in an innovative private school, you can create your own school. Many parents want alternatives for their children. You could consider getting together with some like-minded teachers and create a school that can cater to special interests. Lots of people do it. You could too.
I hope I was able to answered your questions. Please keep in mind, now that you know me, you can always get in touch with me in the future and ask more questions. I love teaching, and I certainly have a lot of things that I could share with you.
I would like to end this class by sharing a talk by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I think it is worth listening to. Why? I think it is important to realize that even though we have curriculum, theories, pedagogical practices, techniques, etc. there is something deeper than all of those things. All of those things are a bit like the recipe book for a chef. But there is something more to being a chef than to simply follow a recipe book. Just as there is more to being a writer or poet than following a formulaic outline and structure. Just as there is more to being an artist than simple having a painting technique. There is also a belief in what you do and, for a teacher, a belief in what you can do for others. You might think of this as the human side of teaching. It is worth keeping in mind.
So I will leave you with this talk. I hope you do spend the few minutes watching it. And I hope you think of how this talk might have meaning for you as a future teacher.
As I said, please know that you can always contact me if you ever think I can be of help to you in your future endeavors. And I hope you do stop by my office and say hello when we get back to our regular university schedules.
I wish you all the very best!