Archive for June, 2009

Everything Must Go

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, perhaps you’ve noticed a new tab on the upper-right-hand side menu: Teaching Materials.  I’ve decided that it would be a shame if the lesson plans, projects, activities, and related materials I created over eight years of teaching were to just sit on my hard drive and rot.  Over the next few days, I will be uploading my entire “stash” to DivShare, a free file-hosting site.  Once everything is up, I’ll write some descriptions and post links to folders for each course I taught over the last eight years.  Furthermore, all my work will be licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC, which allows you to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work (in fact, please adapt and make it better!), but not for commercial purposes.  Also, if you do use any of my stuff other than in your classroom (e.g., on the Web), a link back to me would be most appreciated!

So far, I’ve got my stuff from two of six courses up (seven courses really, but I’m combining materials for the Honors and non-Honors Brit Lit courses).  I’ll post an update here once all the materials are up.


Open Letter to a New Teacher

The strangest, albeit pretty wonderful, thing happened to me the other day.  I was helping clean up from dinner when my cell phone rang.  When my wife answered and then handed it to me, the Caller ID gave a Texas number.  I know very few people in Texas, and this number didn’t belong to any of them, so my next thought was “telemarketer” – I usually just hang up on those, but I took the call anyway.

It turns out that an aspiring teacher came across my resume via Google and decided to call me to ask for some advice on resources she could look to in order to prepare for her first year of teaching.  Ten years ago, I would have been freaked beyond words to receive a call out of the blue from a complete stranger, but since I have gone to great lengths to represent myself online, I actually took this as a) very flattering, and b) validation of the concept of networked learning – somebody else was able to increase their knowledge because I have established an online identity and made myself available (besides, it’s not all that different from getting a blog comment or a follow on Twitter from someone you don’t know).

I wasn’t able to talk at the time (between dinner and the kids’ bedtime gets a bit hectic), but she promised to send me her email address, to which I replied later that night.  After some shout-outs to my fellow educators on Twitter, I was able to offer the following advice (this is the truncated version; the real email is much more detailed):

My parting bit of advice was this: you can go through the best teacher prep program, read all the books, blogs, and magazines out there, and go to all the conferences, but so much of how we learn to teach comes from actual classroom experience – OJT!  At least, that’s how it was for me.

What advice could you have benefitted most from when you were just starting out?   Drafting this blog post I can already think of a few things I left out of my original email, but the topic is so vast, it’s hard to get everything in the first go-round.  If she’s reading, what other advice would you offer this soon-to-be teacher?

Sharing is Caring

Back in April I mentioned that I started a feed of my Shared Items in Google Reader for anyone who’s interested in reading the same stuff I am on psychology, special education, technology, etc.  Today I’d like to let you all know that after multiple failed attempts, I think I’ve finally found a use for social bookmarking site Delicious that suits me: I’ve taken all the sites I’ve bookmarked for myself pertaining to special ed, assistive technology, and school psychology and uploaded them to my own Delicious account.

Please feel free to either subscribe to my Delicious RSS feed or just bookmark my page; have a look at the tag list on the right-hand side of the screen for categories that may interest you (e.g., Organization, Reading, Math, ADHD, etc.).  I hope you and your colleagues can find something useful there, for yourselves or your students.