There is a blogging challenge going around our board with multiple people who blog and I have been challenged by Michael Wetzel to step up to the plate and participate as well.
Here are the requirements for the challenge.
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
2. Share 11 Random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate and let the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
With this challenge in mind, here goes.
1. The person who nominated me for this challenge was Michael Wetzel. I worked with Michael as my Vice-Principal for a little under 2 years (until he got promoted to the board & the to Blessed Pope John Paul II). Mike opened my eyes to the usage of advanced technology in the classroom (much more than over head projectors and power point). In the time I got to know Michael I found him to be one of the most competent, hard working and insightful people I have ever met.
2. 11 Random facts about myself:
- I have a daughter and a son whose names were selected because we liked the sound of them.
- I taught Japanese for a term when I taught in Australia.
- I lived in Australia on a teaching exchange for 1 year.
- I’ve been to Vanuatu.
- I was accepted into the Humber School of Comedy based on my stand-up material.
- The University of Toronto lost my university transfer application twice.
- I have a degree in Criminology.
- I have a twin brother.
- I have been and still are an insomniac for almost 25 years.
- As a child I was pigeon toed and had to wear special boots to bed to correct this (this could be the root of my insomnia and the fact that I cannot sleep with anything on my feet).
- I have an extensive comic book and graphic novel collect that my wife claims takes up too much space. She’s crazy, but I love her anyway.
Now for the questions Michael posed in this challenge.
1. What is the most distinguishable memory of my own education?
To be honest I have 2. Let me preface this by saying I was never the best student. It is not because I did not have the ability, but rather it was something that was not terribly valued in my household and I had little interest in what I was being taught.
The first was in grade 8 when we were selecting our high schools. I was brought into a room by a guidance counsellor (this guy tried to sell me a bunch of bunk) and was told that the school I selected Brebeuf College would be too difficult for me as it was all Advanced (back when I went to school the levels were Basic, General and Advanced). I was told by this “counsellor” that I would be much better served going to a school that offered General and Basic level courses. Needless to say I ignored this man’s advice and went to Brebeuf College taking all Advanced level Courses. I knew I could do things if I applied myself. I just lacked the personal motivation.
The second was in my OAC year of high school (when I was in school in order to attend university you had to complete OAC). Again I need to preface things here. All through high school I was an average student. Generally my marks were between a 60% & 70%. During my OAC year I was taught 2 English course by my homeroom teacher and he noticed that the work I was turning in was well over 80%. He brought me into his class one day and sat me down. I remember the conversation. “Jason we need to discuss your work.” “Okay sir, what’s the problem.” “Its not yours is it?” “What?” “Listen Jason I have taught you several courses over your time here at Brebeuf and never has any of your work remotely resembled this. We have an honour code. I’m giving you one chance to fess up.” “Sir it’s all been mine. If you do not believe me let me prove it to you. I will write you something right now and you’ll see.” “Well alright, but you did have an opportunity.”
I was then given an essay on Heart of Darkness. The specific nature of the question posed escapes me all these years later. I completed the paper left it on his desk and left the class. The next morning prior to class I was asked by my teacher to come into the class and speak with him regarding my work once again.
“Jason I have read you work and their is no doubt in my mind that it is indeed your product. First off I need to extend you my sincerest apology.” (This was the 1st time a teacher had ever apologized for anything to me a student. This threw me for a loop. I was told at a very early age teacher and your parents are always right. I found that to be untrue.) He continued, “but I have to ask why weren’t you producing work like his throughout your high school career?” My answer “because it didn’t matter.” “What do you mean it didn’t matter?” “Well sir I need good marks to get into university. I do not need good marks to go from grade 11 English to grade 12 English, do I?” A pause. I continued, “My parents are happy enough if I pass my classes. Unlike some students here I do not get rewarded for being on the honour role. Nothing in high school mattered until this year. I want to go to university, so I need to get good marks. I am now getting good marks, so I will be able to attend university.” I still remember the look on my teachers face after I told him all of this. The only thing he said was “you might just be the smartest kid in the school as I really get the game of education.” I graduated high school with an 87% average.
2. What TV show from your childhood would be the one that you would most immediately watch if it was on again?
The 1960′s Spiderman Cartoon.
3. What was your favourite Christmas gift as a child?
My Nintendo System.
4. How have you used social media in the past year to add to your own learning?
As an avid Tweeter I have used Twitter to become aware of individuals and institutions that I may not have been exposed to. There are many writers that I now follow on twitter that have given me valuable information that I use in my teaching practice in all classes. In addition. my personal challenge last year of finding, posting and commenting on a picture a day helped me learning and develop my own interest in photography. Besides all of this I have enrolled in 2 MOOC’s over the course of the last year. I would have liked to have spent more time on them, but it was a start that I would not have been aware of had I not been on social media.
5. When was the last time you really considered the physical environment in your classroom and what would you change if you could?
I have a unique classroom in that I teach primarily in a drama room. I have no desks and the great majority of my students need to collaborate in order to achieve success. I may add some more tables so students have more things to lean on when writing.
6. In relation to the last question: what factors are keeping you from making that change? Are they enough to keep you from trying it?
Getting a table is problematic. I would not get more as space is limited for performances and I don’t think its necessary to improve student learning.
7. If I could do anything tomorrow, what would it be?
Sleep for 8 hours of un-interupted sleep. (I don’t remember when I did that last if ever.)
8. When people talk at your retirement dinner, what would you like them to say, and how is it different from what you think will be said?
I would like people to say that all I did good or bad was for the benefit of my students. I was a funny little man who loved his job and never treated it as one. He made an impact. People will probably call me an a$$hole, but one who cared about his students and did a great deal for the school(s) he worked at. He at times got in your face, but he did so with the best of intentions and he never held grudges. He made an impact.
9. If every child in your class was your own, how would your teaching be different?
I’d probably beat and yell a great deal more. Just joking. I’m not really sure it would be that different. The only thing I can think of presently (my daughter is involved in her own programming after school) is being available to students more. I had to cut back on being around after school and at times I have to tell students to come back as I have to leave. I know that will change as my kids get older. But I would say just being around more. Sometimes thats all students really need.
10. Can you explain to me why Newfoundland is 30 minutes off the clock of everyone else?
Not a clue. I could look it up, but wheres the fun in that. (I’m going to look it up).
11. What qualities do you look for in a principal?
I want my principal to have a vision. To be approachable. To be honest. To be available. To allow a teacher the opportunity to do their thing, but to be be there to provide direction if necessary. To be inclusive. To tell me when I’m not doing something right. To tell me when I am doing something right. To allow me to learn from my mistakes. To allow me to do new and try new things. To provide opportunities to collaborate with peers. To provide funds when necessary. To listen.
As for the people I would recommend for the challenge I need to do some thinking and research as I am new to this. The questions will be developed once I know who to challenge.