Monday, March 1, 2010

My Best...No Most Influential Teacher

You are often asked, "who was your best/favorite teacher?"  Best/Favorite can mean so much.  Influential is probably the more important word to use in such a question.  I recently saw a Tweet about an article in the New York Times asking people who their best teacher was and why.  That got me thinking about my own experiences in school.  It is important to note that I went to a small PUBLIC school in Louisville, KY; James Graham Brown School.  It was grades 1-12 (now K-12) and I went there all 12 years.  I graduated with 49 other Seniors, which about 15 of I went to school with since 1st grade.

At my school we called teachers by their first name, we had couches and recliners in many of our classrooms, we were permitted to leave campus for lunch our senior year, no bells, just when the clock hit the time class was over, we went on to our next class, and many other "oddities" you would rarely see in schools today.  It is important to note that my high school now has the #1 scores in the states annual assessment and many of the same "oddities." still in place

The school in itself played a huge role in influencing me.  There was this one teacher though that stands out.  Since the school was so small, I had Jean (as we called her) for Geometry, Algebra II, and Pre-Calculus.  It is important to note that my grades went D, C, B in those classes.  She had my brother as well, he did not fare so well in the class.  I immediately had a hump to get over the first day in her class.  As you can tell, I didn't fair so well getting over the hump looking at my grades.  As the subjects got harder, I did better.  Part of that is maturity.  The other part is gaining respect for Jean.

I will always remember her class.  Quizzes every Wednesday, Test and Notebook check every Friday.  We rarely, if ever, deviated from the schedule, even when it snowed.  I remember her worksheets.  They were made on the Ditto Machine in her classroom.  Copy Machines had been around for a while, but for her, it was not about using ANY technology..not that much was available back then.  I think teacher stations were still optional.  So much of the class was student centered.

So much of what I learned in her class had little to do with Math.  I learned organizational skills because of the notebook checks.  I learned study skills because of the schedule.  I learned how to speak in front of other students because we were required to go to the board every day and complete math problems.  I learned how to respect someone.  She influenced my future.  Was she my favorite teacher?  Was she my best teacher?  Could be, but I remember her for being influential, not because she was easy, fun, exciting, used the greatest teaching methods, or differentiated instruction.  She was very set in her ways.  Judging how my grades were in her classes, it obviously worked.  It just took time for me to adjust and realize how influential she was.  

Jean retired the same year we graduated.  We always joked with her that our class caused her to retire...that she just could not take it anymore.  It was really the exact opposite.  She wanted to finish her career going out with one of her most influential classes.

So, how does this story relate to technology, and I might be stretching it here.  It is not using the technology that makes you influential.  You could use all the technology in the world and not have any influence on your students.  It is HOW you use the technology to influence your students.  Students will think you are influential because of how you used technology to influence them for a lifetime and how that technology influenced their learning.

Who was your most influential teacher?  If you blog, consider this a challenge to write a post telling your readers who influenced you.  If you have done that before, link again to it, so new readers can see your post about your most influential teacher.

Must See Monday #8 - Hodge-Podge

Normally my Must See Monday posts are for a specific website or software.  Today I received an email with a lot of useful links that I thought I would share.

Landmarks Class Blogmeister - This is a Blogging engine that has been developed specifically for classroom use.  It includes both student and teacher blogs.  You can search by country and by state, as well as grade level.  When you search by state you get a list of names, and they are listed by most active.  I wish it would allow you to search alphabetically, but it does not.  When you click on their name, it will take you to their blog.  So if you are looking for someone in particular, this might be a good way to find them.  The major improvement would be to provide what the blog is about (subject, student, class, etc).  It is a great list, but it definitely needs some tweeking.  I guess it would be worth seeing if you could find yourself.

Crocodoc - Share and review documents online.  It would be a great way for students to peer review assignments, or for teachers to post a sample assignment and have students review it from home, or even in class.  You can upload a PDF, Word Document, Power Point, , or even a URL address.  When you visit the site, click on the demo link to see some of the features.  Some of those features include the ability to add Post-it Notes, Highlight, and Strike-through words.  You can also type text within the margins.  You can easily skip from page to page, search, and zoom in and out.  If you want more security features you can pay for a Pro Account and add passwords (probably best options for education) Below is a screen shot of the demo page.

Ipadio - Allows you to boradcast from any phone live to the Internet.  You can audio blog, or use your phone as a voice recorder that saves to the Internet.  Ipadio is available on both the iPhone and the Android.  They refer to blogging with your phone as a "Phlog."  They do have a page dedicated explaining how they feel Ipadio can be used in Education.  I have to say that the list of ideas is pretty interesting.  If you are a school that allows the use of mobile devices, than this website definitely is worth looking at.  There is a case study about using the site to learn Spanish.  I think as mobile technology takes off, the concept of this site will grow.  Check the site out for yourself and see how you might use it.

For something outside education, GrowShow is a great website that allows you to create a time lapse of your child/grandchild as they grow older.  They also have some neat magnetic frames that you can purchase for the pictures that is worth checking out.  I would watch the video on the front page to get a better idea of how it works.  Definitely a site worth checking out if you just had a child/grandchild, or have your photos saved and archived on your computer.  It will automatically organize the photos based on the time stamp if I understood the site correctly.  You can set music up to the show, as well as set a GrowMinder to capture growth so you don't forget.  Account setup is really simple as well.