Monday, September 4, 2017

Student Rapport

William Penn Senior High School, College Street Entrance
After thinking about the start of my eleventh year of teaching, of all the places I could have ended up with my career I never imagined this small town country boy would ever be successful in an urban education setting.  While I feel I will never have the perfect test scores, the high achieving grades from my students or become teacher of the year, I hope my students would all agree with me that I am successful in educating them.  In education the term prior knowledge is a buzz word that is applied to pre-assessment.  With every student I teach I not only look for prior knowledge but utilized the background of my students in reaching their needs.  I like getting to know each of my students and helping them learn the content of Geometry as well as thinking and planning for their present and future.

Wearing Black to support minority students in the community!
 - A student led initiative. 

Through taking online courses and experimenting with different content, I have started to prepare them for the real world with advancing their background in technology by incorporating more mathematics learning involving computer programs.  Growing up in this technologically advanced world we have seen the emergence in fractals from their usefulness in computer generated images (CGI), from film to video games, it is every where around us.  Fractal Geometry is not a term heard in every single school curriculum, it is in every computer animated image, but I have incorporated it with Logarithms to help my students prepare for diverse fields of study and pre-calculus.  As well, it allows  the chance to be artistic and creative in a sometimes otherwise thought of mundane classroom.  Through GeoGebra I have been able to bring precision and problem-solving skills to life in my classroom.  Utilizing Google Docs I have built in collaboration and peer editing projects.  With online research I have been able to bring ratios into social justice.  It is my hope that students come out of my classroom with a little bit more of an understanding of how critical thinking with mathematics can apply to their lives.

Video Game Club 
Fractal Geometry - Students creating 3-D Sierpinski Triangles
and Menger Sponges before the holidays.
Using indirect measurement to calculate heights in Penn Park!
On top of teaching relevant topics, I always want my students to know I am a person just like them and will join in with their antics at times.  I strive to make them understand that I see them as human beings and care about not only their education but their well being, because honestly not everyone of them has that at home.  In our district students come hungry, are homeless, struggle daily and all in all do not open up to many.  I want my classroom to be a safe and inviting place.  Students know my passions and I proudly display my dorky habits of comic books, video games, and love of math, learning, and my family.  I coordinate with my co-worker and friend, Nick Naugle to run a Video Game Club where students can stay after school, organize tournaments or just play games, we have also gone to the local arcade to enhance their experience in gaming.  I participated in a student led protest to the treatment of minority students by others in the county.  During my 3rd period last year we created a Mannequin Challenge Video, which got twelve thousand hits on Facebook! (We went viral!)  And yes I know, this does not relate to education, but sometimes you just have to have fun because at the end of the day these young adults are still kids, and they deserve these little moments.

Viral Video on Facebook! Just having fun with the kids...
Students playing in Penn Park after their project is done.
Teenagers like the playground just as much as kids!

As I reflect through this post it is not my intention to brag about my accomplishments in my classroom, but to recount my past years in growing as an educator, to help others understand teaching is not always about the content.  Sometimes you need to bring life into the content and make the student's education a part of their human experience.  All too many times I hear stories about educators who try to bend the will of their students to the demands of the curriculum and their own strict procedures.  I am not like most teachers.  Through years of trial and error, I have found that if I want students to learn I need to meet them where they are, and teach them what they need to know in order to be successful in their post-secondary decisions, be it college, technical school, career or military.
Students working on GeoGebra and also using
Maps/Ratios to figure out social justice problems.

Although not every interaction is positive, I have always enjoyed getting to know each student, even those that are a bit of a handful.  I enjoy working with every student, creating meaning in our days together and observing their unique character qualities as they mature.  I teach about 125-150 students in a school year, and if I feel like I can reach at least one, I have had a successful year.

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