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October 11, 2011 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Resources and inspiration for a potential teacher-to-be?

I've been offered a wonderful opportunity to interview at a few international schools, something I used to dream about. The problem? I've spent the past year thinking about applying to shitty jobs and bills and living paycheck to paycheck, and I'm a little stuck in my own head. I'm still as passionate about education as I used to be, but I'm not used to talking about it anymore, and I'm worried I'll blow this because I can't express myself.

So I want back in the loop. I want to know what books and articles other teachers are reading, what philosophies and strategies they're talking about. I want to get back in the conversation, and start reading and talking about education again.

A few notes:
- These are international schools, and don't have the same hoops and such as public schools in the US
- I would NOT be teaching esl
- I would be teaching either middle school or high school

* anonymous because my potential employers don't need to see this
posted by anonymous to Education (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I would talk about Mastery Learning. If you have the resources, and if the students are motivated, that is just the perfect way to teach: all children can learn if they are provided with the appropriate learning conditions.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:59 PM on October 11, 2011

Oh my God, I know exactly how you feel (at least about wanting to get excited about education again).

As teachers, we need to start from a perspective of respect -- respect for parents and other stakeholders who place such trust and power in our hands. When teachers begin to appreciate the opportunity they have -- that they've been given -- they can operate from a place of both elation and humility that fuels genuine inspiration. Remember that respect begets respect. The most respectful teachers are usually the most respected.

Also, never forget that as a teacher you have the choice to wield extraordinary power to influence the lives of young people (and their caregivers). That choice is a constant one, each and every day. Will you do something to stretch and challenge minds today, or will you do what you need to do to get by?

As for education trends, it would be helpful to know your area of specialty, but here are some important ones:

*Cognitive science based (or brain based) teaching. In other words, teaching practices and techniques predicated on established research by cognitive scientists. There is just so much information in this realm, and so much truly useful, actionable advice.

*Inquiry-based or investigation-based science. A focus on "real" field science and experiments, not canned labs.

*The "componential" or "micro-step" teaching of mathematics. In other words, breaking down traditional mathematical algorithms and concepts into the smallest units of cognitive function possible, and addressing each one of these micro-steps clearly and directly before moving onto the next. "Jump" mathematics is an example of this that has met phenomenal success so far.

*Performance character education as opposed to (or as opposed to only) traditional character education. Performance education focuses on work ethic and not giving up in the face of adversity -- what some scholars actually refer to as "grit." Traditional character education being that which is more focused on kindness, honesty, etc.

*Task-oriented, team-based learning (a subset of cooperative learning). Students work in structured teams with specified responsibilities to accomplish real-world objectives that they have at least in part created for themselves. For example, a group sets a goal of creating a literary blog that will receive at least 1,000 views and 20 comments in a two month period.

*Entrepreneurial learning. Students learn through developing a product or service and taking it to market.

Community-mediated learning. Students learn by integrating with the local community, engaging in service learning, and taking on community-focused projects like creating an oral history library or community newsletter.

A book I once read that really motivated me was There Are No Shortcuts by Rafe Esquith. He really raises the bar for teachers, but not in any sort of demeaning or unreasonable way. If you'll be teaching middle school reading or writing, I recommend Nancie Atwell. If you're going to specifically be teaching high level math, memail me and I can heap some potentially helpful resources on you.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

I graduated in May from a two-year program (year one: credential; year two: masters in ED) and while I have a lot of great stuff I could share (memail me if you want the full download), I'll start by suggesting that you get a cheap ($15/yr) subscription to Teachers College Record. Weekly email with access to amazing and current articles about all kinds of issues, problems, successes, etc. in the world of education. If you want a sample email/articles, memail me and I'll send to you.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:56 PM on October 11, 2011

My US M.Ed/Credential program is in love with all things related to:

The Social/Emotional Curriculum
Morning Meetings
Math Concepts Seen as Relationships (rather than in isolation)
Equity and Awareness for Students of All Genders, Sexual Orientations, Abilities, Etc
Social Justice and Pedagogy of the Oppressed

The SE Curriculum and Morning Meeting stuff is definitely translatable to non-American schools. Rock with what you will. On preview, GnomeChompsky hits everything I wanted to say.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:23 PM on October 11, 2011

Read Jonathan Kozol's books, they are US-centric but heartbreaking and make you want to do the best job possible.
posted by bquarters at 6:07 AM on October 12, 2011

Hi there - non-teacher here so please forgive me if this is below your pay grade but I found The Atlantic article very interesting. And reading up on the Khan Academy (and watching his TED talk) is always inspiring for me too.

Best of luck, if the International School where I live had more teachers with your enthusiasm I'd actually consider sending my daughter there...
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:47 AM on October 12, 2011

I've always found Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach a great source of inspiration, in terms of reminding me why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place.
posted by bardophile at 4:06 AM on October 16, 2011

n'thing brain based education and equity strategies. The best book I have found that really gets me excited about teaching is 12 Mind/Brain Learning Principles in Action. It's awesome. Seriously. Memail me if you want suggestions for some more books, but that book should be on every teacher's shelf. It does an awesome job of summarising the major findings in brain-based research, but also on giving strategies for incorporating them in class.

But really, it's all about kids. Do you love working with kids? Do you love helping and teaching and guiding and counseling? Is it really, for you, all about the kids? That's what gets me excited every day. In interviews, I'd focus on that - does this person really have a heart for education? You can teach people the strategies. You can't teach them to care. Let that passion come through in the interview and you're well on your way.

Another good idea when interviewing for teaching jobs: Always give a general and specific answer. Example:

How do you make sure all students are learning in your class?
I use checking for understanding frequently. For example, when I taught thesis writing, I had students who claimed to know how to do it. So I checked in with a few of them to see. When I realised that some needed specific help, I gave out red/green cards and the kids who put the green cards up were the ones who didn't need help. The ones who did need help put the red ones up. It helped me by giving a quck visual check of the room. If I saw more than 10 red cards, I knew I needed to reteach the whole group. By using that check for understanding, I was able to help all my students succeed.

Again, memail me if you want to talk more about interviews or other teacher-y stuff. :-)
posted by guster4lovers at 10:34 PM on October 17, 2011

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