Thursday, July 2, 2009

Constructive Summer

A well known perk of being a teacher is of course the summer breaks. While I have been enjoying my break, and rubbing it in my non-teacher friend's face, I have actually been keeping quite busy. I thought I would take this opportunity to make a quick update of my summer happenings thus far.

Continuing My Education
While I received a break from my teaching duties, my graduate professors unfortunately did not. I am enrolled in two classes this summer term, ethics leadership and foundations of educational history. Both are very interesting courses that provide for very meaningful class discussions. In addition to graduate courses, I thought I would take another step towards better myself as a learner by doing some summer reading.
Now that I have that in the open, let me explain a few things. I have read a total of maybe two books ever that were not required reading for courses, but I do believe promoting literacy is a very important job for educators. So what I have done is I have taken a bit of initiative and I am now practicing what I preach. I am currently reading the classic 1984 by George Orwell (little behind, I know) and looking forward to reading The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. While this may seem like a very small task for someone to do during their summer, it is a giant leap for me. If I expect my student to achieve accelerated reader goals and enjoy reading, I need to be able to share in that activity as well. Being able to model good learning is often more important than lesson you try to deliver.

Throughout my educational career, I have been fortunate to have been taught by some wonderful teachers and professors. However, this semester I have been interacting with two professors that have really shown me that higher education is progressing nicely along side the digital age.

Dr. Pijanowski during our weekly Elluminate Sessions

Dr. John Pijanowski is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas. I am currently enrolled in Dr. P's ethical leadership course, now there are a few things that are a bit "different" about his course. For starters it is an online course, but it's not quite like any online course I have ever taken. Dr. P is unique in the fact that he has found way to make technology work for him even in his graduate courses. In my undergraduate and graduate experience, this is a real rarity. Dr. P uses google pages as his main resource and also implements video updates everyday, discussion board discussions, whole class video conferencing, and a variety of resources that he hotlinks from his main page. Another tool that he has used in our class, that has greatly impacted our online class, is using Elluminate Sessions. Elluminate is a collaborative video conferencing tool that allows us to meet every week face to face....despite the fact that we are all in our homes. He has done something that I that was to be impossible, he has taken an online class and made it just as effective as an on-campus. Also, in the spring and fall semesters he still uses this model to a certain extent. He uses what he calls a "hybrid class", this allows us (his students) to attend class on campus every other week. The weeks that we are not on campus, we meet online. This is a wonderful idea that is truly one of a kind, and I know everyone in his classes appreciate the fact that he is cutting down our commute time.

Dr. Strange's Summer Blog

Dr. John Strange is a professor of professional studies at the University of South Alabama. I am not or ever been enrolled in one of Dr. Strange's courses. However, he has influenced me greatly through his work. Dr. Strange is unusually in the fact that he does not conduct his class in a manner that would be considered "traditional" by college standards. John is preparing his students for a career in education in a progressive way that prepares them to be able to incorporate technology in their classroom. He uses Blogger with his students as a reflection tool, a teaching resource, and a way to introduce new and effective tools for learning. While I am proud of the education I received in during my undergraduate program, I am jealous of Dr. Strange's students. Although I have never been in one of Dr. Strange's classes, I feel like I have from his blogging that he does with his education students. Also his students are buying into it. I receive e-mails and comments from his students each semester about how they are excited about the work that teachers like myself, Mr. Chamberlain, and Mr. Lamshed are doing and that they are finding real value that they can take with them.....which is the key in all this. The fact that his students are learning how to network and collaborate with other educators by building their own personal learning network is truly awesome. Very seldom do you see professors in education departments implementing such technology with their students, and the fact that Dr. Strange is preparing his students to be apart of the a progressive technology movement is something that is very, very cool.

Both of these professors are people that educators can really learn from. Their adaptability to the growing technology world around them is something that is rare in itself. It's not the fact that they are able to use computers and technology, it's the fact that they are using them to serve as a positive purpose and resource in education.

You may be thinking.....your a teacher, you've been on vacation for a month now! Now that I am officially finished with my school courses, I am looking forward to enjoying the month of July. Heading up north to Minnesota next week to enjoy the Twin Cities and watch a little baseball (Win Twins!). So in the meantime, have a fantastic & safe Fourth of July holiday everyone!

Mr. McClung


Room 8, New Zealand said...

One of the wonderful things for me this year has been following the development of this blog. Wonderful to see the progress, the success etc. Seems like you've also be packing a whole lot into your holidays. Nice to see you are having a holiday for a bit too! Looking forward to seeing your recharged and energised for the next school year.
Mr Webb, Melville Intermediate, Hamilton, New Zealand.

mrC said...

Nice blog Mr. M. But you don't really hate to read do you? We spend most of our days as teachers reading.And you're right, we need to demo for the kids what good students do. Again, kudos on the blog. I like the combo of kids and you. A few cuts above most of the navel-gazing and link-copying I see on a lot of blogs. Thanks.

jkmcclung said...

Thanks guys for the comments. @mrC its not that I necessarily hate reading, I just don't do it for enjoyment. I much rather listen to music or watch movies.

NZWaikato said...

I agree with what Mr C says.

Anonymous said...

As I was browsing the NSTA site, I found a link to dropped by to see what one of my fellow Arkansas teachers (you) might be up to in the classroom. Congratulations on completing summer coursework--I finished a masters this summer--glad you survived 'till the REAL summer arrived. Looking forward to reading your blogs throughout the year.

Room 201 4-5-6 science