(This is step two in the free Teacher 2.0 course/"experience" at Mightybell - participate at https://mightybell.com/experiences/3ff5259e1c4d9948-Teacher-2-0.)

As Angela Maiers says, "you matter!" (http://www.angelamaiers.com)

What is something that you are good at? If you are feeling particularly confident, you can list several things!

Some questions to ponder:

  • How does doing them make you feel?
  • Do your students/children know what these are? 
  • Do you know what your students'/children's talents are?
  • How do you help others recognize that they matter?


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I seem to be good at discovering new uses for things. I often can stumble across something (usually a technology) and find a way that thing will make teaching better or different or more engaging.
This is definitely one of my skills, too!  :)

Scott, I've been finding that I have that skill, too.  I don't think of myself as an Early Adopter of technologies -- I usually wait until the first-generation kinks have been worked out -- but I seem to be moving more and more in that direction.  At the same time, what's important to me is not the "shiny new tool" itself but the ways that students can use that tool to be more engaged or more productive or happier (or all three) in their learning.

Justin, I would have to say that I am with you on the need to not jump at the next new shiny tool.  Too often we are purchasing technologies that just perpetuate old teaching styles with expensive tools.  I want to see the work that students do change.  I want them to dig into real world problems, explore, create, and learn to be part of a team to solve a problem.  That is what they will have to do in real life....not just open an app and play a math game.

I am great at being positive and passing on that energy to those around me.  My students appreciate that when they are having a bad day we acknowledge the incident/feelings and then we move on to the positives of life, and when we review the previous incident it is viewed in a new light!
I feel the most confident when I am in my kitchen.  Sounds ridiculous, but it is true.  After years of being a pastry chef, teaching cooking classes, and now teaching in radiologic technology program, there is nothing that tops the thrill of creating a new, original cookie, or a completely different ice cream blend.  Everyone knows about my culinary abilities.  I don't think they have ever forgiven me for quitting the food biz and diving into field undergraduate education.  That makes me smile.  Second is being in my lab with my students at work.  See, neither is really different from the other.  They are both callings and I answered.
Maybe we'll see you on one of the reality cooking competition shows?!

I am good at video games and I get a sense of accomplishment when I complete a level or move past a difficult part of the game.  Over the years, I attempt to bring the gaming design models to 21st century learning by developing authentic tasks for learners and reward milestones along the way.  Recently Edutopia featured the blog of an educator in California who shares this connection and can relate gaming design to instructional design.

In contemporary online games, teams of players rely on the talents of each other to successfully accomplish tasks and overcome obstacles.  This is the kind of instruction that should be fostered in schools to prepare students for the global marketplace.  Most teachers are unwilling to take this approach because standardized assessments are taken by individuals, not teams.  I think when you recognize individuals for their team contributions, they feel successful which will give them confidence that will transpire to the standardized tests.

Andy, I really liked your point about recognizing individual contributions to a team effort!  That happens everywhere in the "real world," from athletic competitions to online games, but it doesn't happen very often in schools.  We tend to focus on the final product of the collaboration and ignore the process, don't we?


As for standardized assessments, I've been thinking about them a lot recently for obvious reasons :-).  It seems to me that you can look at the tested curriculum in at least two different ways, and those ways have huge implications for what happens in the classroom.

  • A lot of people see the standardized test as the purpose or the end of instruction.  I call this the "ceiling" approach because the tested curriculum becomes a goal which you aspire to reach -- and to have some of your students reach.  The results are predictable: narrow focus on test-prep, stress for students, test anxiety.
  • It's more difficult to see the standardized test as a partial measure of what happens in the classroom, and to build your "real" curriculum on the foundation of what's tested.  I call this the "floor" approach because there's a built-in assumption that of course everyone will be able to do "that stuff" by the time the test rolls around.  If anyone is struggling, of course they'll receive the help they need ... but by the end of the year, we will have done so much more than "just" what's tested.  On that floor, or foundation, we can build all kinds of interesting structures ... including collaborative ones.


You can probably tell which approach I favor!

Over non the Mightybell forum, I said this:

I have a talent for building -- or I guess I should say helping to build -- what I've come to call "joyful learning communities" with my students. We work hard together to create a safe, supportive environment where everyone can experience the joy of learning. But it is increasingly hard to this in the confines of a 20th-century school environment!


I want to go into a bit more detail here about what I mean by joyful learning community, since that's not a very common phrase.  But I've realized it's the essence of "who I am" as a teacher.  It's also at the heart of what my friend Ann Martin and I have tried to do with our 21st-century Latin curriculum, the Tres Columnae Project, and what we hope to do with our 21st-century alternative to the factory-model school, which we're calling the Three Column Schools.


Here's how I tried to define joyful learning community for the Tres Columnae Project, and here is an article I wrote for the Dream School Commons project about the Three Column Schools vision.


I've realized that joyful learning community is actually the opposite of the model on which 20th-century, factory-model schools are built.  The purpose of the factory-model school was to prepare students for a world in which they'd be employed, for life, by large, paternalistic organizations (blue-collar or white-collar factories) to do routine tasks with a high degree of accuracy.  The 20th century was a prosperous time for the United States -- especially when the factory economy was in full flower.  Unfortunately, those days are gone ... but factory-model schools continue to produce a "product" (compliant factory workers) for which there's no longer a market!

I am really good at designing problem based learning units.  I seem to have a knack for creating real life problems for students to solve.  I am also really good at using technology as part of the teaching and learning process.  My students know that I am the "tech expert" in our school.  They feel very comfortable stopping in to ask me questions.  It is not unusual for a teacher or student to stop in my room with a netbook, laptop or other technology and ask for help.  I know some of my students have the tech knack as well and I use them as helpers with other students and teachers.  I like to empower others to help themselves and really try to cheer them on as they try and learn new technologies.

Hello I'm good at helping people to be better.


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