A Pre-Interview, Interview

CC Image by wmacphail http://www.flickr.com/photos/wmacphail/4466242719If you would like to know me better as a 21st Century instructional leader, then please read my answers to the following questions. I took about an hour to answer the questions using no references. Thanks to all of you who are praying and helping to guide me in finding my ideal fit teaching position.

Do you consider yourself to be a risk taker? (Give an example to back up your answer.)
Yes, I consider myself a risk taker. I took a risk five years ago and left the classroom so that my wife could pursue her passion which is also teaching. I take risks every day by engaging my PLN and opening myself up by having a transparent digital footprint. I also took risks in the classroom to try new things and to never be satisfied with mediocrity. I always push myself to be in the moment with my students with an eye on the future.

If I were your principal and we were setting goals for next year, what would they be?

  • Make sure that all our teachers and administrators are comfortable using social media for professional development & provide support for them via professional development.
  • I want to do action research on the benefits or drawbacks of gamification in the classroom.
  • Explore best practices of using technology as another tool in the teaching toolbox.
  • See how the flipclass works for our student body and faculty meetings.
  • Explore connections for the maker movement and coding in the history classroom.
  • Make connections with other classrooms around the world by collaborating on projects via Skype or Google Hangouts.

What is the last educational book you read? Why that book?
I most recently read, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, PhD. I read this book because I am very interested in engineering, the idea that kids will be our fuure inventors, and we need to become not just consumers but also creators, makers, and doers. I would like to pursue these ideas further to see how they can connect with the social sciences.

If you could create the ideal school, what would it be like?
The ideal school would look like Google. A place where every space can be utilized for creativity, learning, collaborating, sharing, exploring. Every person in the school would have cutting edge tablets that have the memory of desktop computers for ease of use, therefore blurring seamlessly the disconnect that often exists between teaching, learning, and technology. Everyone would work together as a team to model life-long learning and relationship building within the whole community. Students would love coming to school because they know that everyone is working together toward common goals and they feel like their ideas are valued and they are valued as persons.

How do you deal with failure? (Your own and that of your students)
Jerry Blumengartner explained to me that failure is actually First Attempt In Learning. It’s okay to fail, but we must have perseverance. We need to consistently work toward our goals, because there are times we will not be successful, but if we keep striving with perseverance we will eventually succeed. Even a “failure” can be viewed as a success. If we don’t take risks, try new things, and fail, we cannot be successful. Think of babies, they learn to crawl after many failed attempts, they learn to walk only after falling a lot. You cannot make progress in a video game without trying and failing a number of times. Failure is a part if life, every one of us needs to have the fortitude to keep trying.

How will 21st century competencies be developed in your students? (Provide examples both with and without technology)
Students in my classroom will become digital citizens by learning how to leverage the Internet effectively, efficiently, and ethically. We all need to keep up with the real world by being involved in the world and using the tools that others use in the world. Why? Because the world is the classroom today and we are all building connections that are helpful now while remaining flexible and adaptable. Change in the world is the only constant and we all need to be able to handle that change. Dr. Tony Wagner came up with a list of seven essential survival skills that are based on research. We should embrace those skills and make them the focus of our learning communities. These skills or competencies are applicable to technology and working with others in face to face situations. Dr. Wagner’s essential survival skills are always at the forefront whenever I am planning learning experiences.

Have you built a Personal Learning Network (PLN)? Why or why not?
I have built a PLN that Rocks! I believe that my PLN is centered around many people who are actively engaged in moving education forward. Whether they be researchers at the university level, teachers at the elementary level, or administrators across the globe I am constantly challenged to think and become a better person. Right now Twitter and Google+ are the main components of my PLN. While connecting with and collaborating with awesome teachers across the globe is important, it is also important to develop close working relationships within a school and district. A forward thinking PLN is a must for everyone in every field.

In what ways will you challenge your colleagues and the principals thinking?
First off, we need to eliminate the attitude that we are doing something because we have always done that. We need to constantly be evaluating whether or not actions we take will be of direct benefit to the students. It’s important to challenge each other to become better. Establishing a culture where sharing what works and presenting classroom techniques/strategies to each other will hold people accountable for their professional learning and the learning of colleagues. Monthly book clubs, game nights, and twitter chats will help our community bond more deeply.

How will you differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners in your class?
I believe that every student needs to have an Individual Learning Plan. I can also meet the diverse needs in today’s classroom by being prepared, making learning relevant, and allowing for student choice and voice. Keeping in touch with my PLN and reaching out with questions that can help my students also helps me to differentiate for diverse learning.

Take 10 minutes to prepare yourself to lead the interview panel in a conversation about an emerging educational topic of your choosing.
I would lead a conversation about gamification. What beliefs does the team have towards games and gaming (beneficial or not)? How does the team view this technique and would they support a teacher trying this technique?

I would also try to get a bead on where the team stands on assessment, ILPs, and pushing the boundaries of education.

The questions that I answered come from Mr. Greg Miller’s blog post The New Look Teacher Interview


Can You See Me On Your Team?

resumeI have been scouring the Midwest for social studies positions for about a year and a half. I have sent out well over 200 resumes and applications and have had over a dozen interviews. The interview process and the reasons administrators give for not offering a job range anywhere from pre-canned E-mail responses to ridiculous qualities that I could never compete with. Quite honestly, I am fed up with the entire application and interview process. I am at the point where Justin Tarte was last summer when he wrote this post, Read My Blog, Not My Resume. I will however add a question to the mix, can you see me on your team?

Let’s assume that I am seeking to work for a particular school district and/or administrator. Let’s further assume that since I have 15-16 years of teaching experience that I pretty much know the kind of people I would like to work for and I know my abilities and limitations. I always do my homework by investigating the districts and administrators BEFORE I even fill out an application and submit the requisite resume. I have already determined that the district (including student demographics) and the administrion would be a “good fit” for me. I mean why would I go through the laborious time consuming process of filling out an application, answering screening questions, and tweaking my resume and letter for a position I would not want, working for people I would not like, somewhere I don’t want to be, and doing something I might not be able to handle?

I am not a wet behind the ears greenhorn just looking for that first job so I can get my foot in the door of education. I mean, come on folks, I’ve been in the game for quite a while and I have continued learning, changing, and adapting to the ebbs and flows of our profession. If you can’t learn, change, and adapt, you cannot be a teacher in today’s connected world.

Anyone can look good on paper and possibly smooth talk their way through an interview, but what is that person’s digital footprint look like? What have they been doing currently to advance the profession and student learning? Do they actually engage with people on a national or international level? It is imperative in today’s world to establish a professional learning network and a robust transparent digital presence. The online presence of a person shows, in a very open and vulnerable way what is important to that person.

Go ahead and Google your name to see where your digital footprint leads. Better yet Google the name Timothy Scholze and check out my digital footprint. I am proud of what I have out there in cyberspace because I take the risk to stand behind what I put online. Take a look at what I have to offer and then ask yourself, can you see me on your team?