Learning, Teaching, Leading, and Having Fun

Hopefully, I will be offered a teaching job soon, but the hiring season has slowed and to be honest I feel that there isn’t an administrator out there that really cares about my particular job situation. It amazes me that I can pour my heart and soul into a profession, make loose connections, and keep developing as a teacher and leader, yet still be on the outside of the profession peering inside. Why do I continue to desire a secondary social studies teaching job? I can’t help it, I am passionate about teaching and learning.

I am also the kind of person who doesn’t settle for mediocrity. I have always been a reflective practitioner, but just recently have I had the courage to

cc - Alaska Teacher

cc – Alaska Teacher

stand up and speak out, to let my voice be heard. Twitter chats and Google + help me engage with world class leaders to discuss current pedagogy trends and how to best serve students. I started blogging this past fall as part of my reflections upon what I have learned and promoting ideas that matter. Engaging in discussions with other teachers and technology leaders helps me to stay relevant as a classroom teacher yet it makes me yearn even more for a school and a classroom I can call home. I curate articles and pertinent blogs on Scoop.It and Diigo. I am as transparent as transparent gets in the digital online world and I am willing to try things out to see how well researched and emerging trends in pedagogy can impact student learning. I engage in action research and I want learning to be authentic so students can see that what they do matters now.

I came into the social sciences via geography. Geography became my “gateway drug” and history became the content area I fell in love with. See history is more than just wars and dead presidents, it is the study of how we came to be the people we are today and in order to understand who we are today, we have to look at how we developed into that person. Everything has a story behind it and as we look at these stories we gain an appreciation and respect for those that came before us and the hardships they endured and the successes they attained. I am only a second generation American and I know that my paternal grandparents worked very hard to establish their roots in this country.

My own history has been a wild ride. After high school I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and worked as a wing command post controller and took a college course every semester. After my wild and crazy Air Force days, I attended college full-time for five years majoring in Broadfield Social Studies and Geography and a minor in 5-9 Earth Science. While in college, I worked about 20 hours a week as a master control operator for a local television station. My first and only fourteen year teaching job was in Northern Wisconsin where I taught eighth grade students about U.S. History and life. Along the way I also picked up a certificate in public history, certifications to teach history, economics, and psychology. My wife and I both worked on our masters programs at the same time in a Professional Learning Community format. The last three years of my fourteen year career included teaching seventh graders Introduction to the Social Sciences, 9th grade U.S. History and 10th grade World History, and one semester of 11th/12th grade psychology, as well as my eighth grade course.

My students always saw me learning and trying new things and they were excited by the things that we did in class. Parents were constantly remarking that their child never talked about school until they had me for history class. Now, that is high praise coming from the grade levels I taught!

The school I taught at was a beta test site for many different technologies and I got to use some interesting equipment, programs and the Internet on a daily basis. I even went so far as to volunteer my time to teach other teachers how to better use some of the new technologies like green screens, streaming video, putting together video clips versus watching entire videos, and the list goes on. Change was ever present and I never taught the same way from year to year. I was somewhat ahead of the curve when it came to PBL because I integrated National History Day into the eighth grade curriculum in my school district.

3 1/2 years ago my mother, who lived about 90 miles away, was diagnosed with uterine cancer. In an effort to be closer and be able to help out, my wife and I looked for teaching jobs to be closer to my parents. My wife was hired to teach in the area only 15 minutes from my parents home. I kept trying to find something to no avail. I had to make a decision about whether to keep my teaching job and see my family on weekends or give it up to be with my family. Well, I thought that I could cash in my retirement savings and work anywhere to be with my family and to help my mother.

I subbed for two years, which meant a paycheck that varied from week to week and jobs that ran from working all week to working once or twice a week. Holidays were stressful, no paycheck, and summers were terrible, lack of jobs, no pay, and even food stamps, and trips to the local food pantry. I hated to do it, but for the sake of my family’s welfare and my sanity, I signed on with a temp agency where I have been working at least 40 Fun Lerning Signhours a week for more than a year now. Paid holidays and one week of vacation pay after 1500 hours of work per year, no other benefits.

My wife loses her job at the end of the next school year because we chose to send our kids to a school where my wife doesn’t teach for their middle school and high school years. I was born to research, to be curious, to love learning, and to enjoy working with teenagers. I was not meant to spend my time as a glorified data entry person who stares at a computer screen for 8-10 hours a day. I was meant to be active and actively engaging with others. I need to have the opportunity to try 20% time and see kids thrive on their passions. I need to see kids finding and solving the problems in our world. I need to see kids engaged with kids from other cultures to collaborate on projects. I need to see kids get up and give TED type talks about the things that are important to them. I need to lead teacher professional development so that teachers can see the power of transformative learning.

I need an administrator who will hire me and trust that I will walk the walk and talk the talk. I am a very passionate man when it comes to education and learning. I want to have a principal who can see me as a leader and not be afraid to let me explore, teach, and lead. I also want an administrative team that will challenge me and help extend my thinking. The only thing I want is for just one administrator to give me another chance to look forward to rushing into work the next day because we’re going to have fun and learn.

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