Thursday, May 24, 2018

Chicago {Round 2}

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
-  Anita Desai

We spent the long weekend in Chicago (by way of Louisville, Cincinnati, and Knoxville).  Though I've said it many times before, traveling gives us new eyes - and these students have experienced much. 

From dinosaur fossils, and the man eating lions of Tsavo, to the enormity of the Willis Tower, to the Institute of Art (where they saw the works of Picasso, Monet, Caravaggio, Warhol, and Pollock), to the Blue Man Group performance, to an architectural tour of Chicago by boat, and (of course) a Chicago Fire soccer match - these students will hopefully have their eyes open a bit wider from henceforth.

I love to learn new things.  I love to teach.  I love to travel.  And I love these kids.

I hope they learned as much as I did.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Support Public Schools.

I love being a teacher.  I love my students, my school, my colleagues, and history.  And I most love being a parent to my two children - each of whom have incredible teachers. 

In North Carolina, we currently invest 9.4% LESS than we did ten years ago in school funding (adjusted for inflation).  We are the tenth largest state in the US, yet currently rank 37th in school funding.

This is not okay.

This is why a 42 NC public school systems, including mine, shut down today.  We can do better than this in NC.  We MUST do better than this.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Moving Forward {with Mr. Cavnar}

Image result for bobbie cavnarThis past summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Germany with a group of amazing teachers.  Bobby Cavnar, the 2017 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, and the recent recipient of NEA's highest national teacher award was one of them, and we became buddies.  I respect him, and know that he is a great teacher who thinks deeply about the issues that are impacting public education here in NC. 

This week, in the wake of another deadly school shooting - Bobbie wrote a great piece about how we can move forward in NC.  I highly recommend it.

Read it here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Choose NBHS {I did}

AP Information Booth, 8th Grade Open House
One of the primary changes in NC public education over the last several years is the rise of charter, STEM, and private schools actively recruiting talented students out of traditional public high schools.  Here at NBHS, we have certainly noticed the trend, and have quietly witnessed other schools attempt to sell their programs.

Whereas many of these nontraditional schools have much to offer our students, NBHS remains an amazing high school.  And we do not believe that great students will continue to simply walk in our doors without careful consideration.  Everyone now has a choice.

AP trip to the Civil Rights Memorial Museum, Montgomery, AL
To that end, we have decided to build a PR campaign to educate the families of Buncombe County on exactly what our school offers.  For my part specifically, that involves our Advanced Placement program.  We have developed a website specifically for our AP program, complete with information about all of our (now 16!) AP courses.  In addition, we opened an information booth at our 8th grade open house for families to ask questions and learn about our top notch programs.  This is just the beginning, but I hope that it helps paint a more complete picture of what NBHS has to offer.

We are the only school in Western North Carolina that offers 16 face to face AP classes, coupled with three AP history field trips (these trips include educational tours of NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and DC).  Extensions of our AP program include our Robotics team, Science Olympiad, Mock Trial team (law), and our competitive Mathematics team.

I have taught at NBHS for 18 years, and am so proud of our school.  I believe in our teachers and students, and have witnessed firsthand the positive impacts that this institution can have on a child's life.  I choose NBHS.  I think you should too.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Visit to Dachau {Vlog}

Travelling to Germany this past summer with Go Global NC was truly an amazing experience.

As I am teaching about the Nazi era of German history (in my American History II course) for the first time since my return, it is cause for reflection.
One of the greatest gifts from the trip was that each of us (teachers) were required to either, A. write a reflective blog post for a certain day, or B. record a video blog entry (Vlog).

Being an avid blogger (written), I decided to try my hand at a Vlog.  Luckily, I recorded my Vlog immediately after visiting the Nazi Concentration Camp of Dachau.  It was the most emotional experience I had while in Germany, and I am pleased that I was able to reflect on it for posterity.

Per their website, "On March 22, 1933, a few weeks after Adolf Hitler had been appointed Reich Chancellor, a concentration camp for political prisoners was set up in Dachau. This camp served as a model for all later concentration camps and as a "school of violence" for the SS men under whose command it stood. In the twelve years of its existence over 200.000 persons from all over Europe were imprisoned here and in the numerous subsidiary camps. 41,500 were murdered. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Relationships (build the better teacher)

My (younger and better looking) colleagues, Wil Maney, Tony Dezio, and I were invited to the ECET2NC conference this past weekend in Charlotte, NC.  Funded by the Gates Foundation, this conference promised new ideas, and inspiration.  Wil Maney and I were both especially excited to go, because we were selected based on our mentor (veteran teacher, me!) and mentee (newer teacher, Wil!) relationship.   I would argue that the conference had some great moments, but also suffered due to time constraints.

But the crucial takeaway from spending two days with great teachers from all across the state of North Carolina is...

  2. Relationships are still everything.  

Through all of the programming and speakers at this event, what most inspired me was meeting other teachers, getting to know them, and learning about them.  From there, I became interested in their teaching.  And we developed trust.  As our relationships developed, our ability to learn from each other increased.  This was also true for Wil Maney, Tony Dezio, and me as well.  We learned more about each other, and when our conversations touched on teaching and learning - they were so much more meaningful.

We discussed more about our issues as a public school teacher than ever before, and by the time we returned home - we had some new ideas about our approaches to teaching, to learning, and to our leadership potential (coming soon!).  And we learned to trust each other's ideas, and know that we would each be taken seriously.

But most importantly, we are closer.  We are better friends.  And we have new friends from Wilmington, Raleigh, Charlotte, and even right here in Asheville.

So, how do we make better teachers?  I'm still not exactly sure, but I know how to start..

Relationships and trust.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

High Fives and Rock n Roll

Every new year I create new goals for myself - both personally and in the classroom.  And though I am required to document my "official" goals in a "Professional Development Plan," I also like to seek growth in other areas of teaching that fall outside of the traditional lines.
This year the goals are simple, continue to build the culture in my classroom:

1.  I am going to greet every student as they enter my class with a High Five, every day that I can.

2.  I will use music for everything that I possibly can.

So, I LOVE to give high fives, and I also love to connect with my students - so daily greetings are great, but they also enable me to also carve out some time to have a chat, ask about their day, or just notice how they are.  Relationships are everything, and daily high fives are just another chance for us to get to know each other.  More importantly, it is hard not to smile when giving a high five.  So, opening our day with a smile means it is a worthy cause.

As for music, I have been using loud music since day one of my teaching career, from quiz songs to class introductions - we rock out.  But, this year I am hoping to expand my practice to include songs that signal interludes as well.  So far, Rob Base's It Takes Two means quiz, and The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army means its time to play the Grahamy's Review Game ( I was even able to visit The White Stripes record label this summer...and get a picture actual all came together nicely ;)

So needless to say, I am excited about this school year - and so far, handing out  High Fives and Rock n Roll has been just the start we needed.

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