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TOY Essays

TOY Essays

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Published by David Duez

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Published by: David Duez on May 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/04/2012

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Question 1 - Commitment - Describe your most defining moment in the classroom.What has being an educator taught you about yourself?
My most "defining" moment in the classroom was in January of 2005. During the previous semester a colleague informed me that he would be retiring due to health problems and asked me to move from my current World History level classes to take over his honors classes. I was humbled by the offer. It was my first semester back in theclassroom after working as an information technologist. I knew I would have big shoes tofill in January.The plan was that I would take over his classes to start the new semester. Things did notgo according to plan. He had a massive heart attack and died during the holiday. When Iheard the news I was simply shocked. The first day back to school would be the first daymeeting my new students. It would be my job to deliver this tragic news to the students.This was the first opportunity for me to deal with death in the classroom. For six periodsI looked into welcoming, smiling sophomore faces, only to see their expressions changeas I began to explain the news. The students knew the semester would bring change.They had their going away party for him to end the semester. They had no idea it would be the last time they saw him. The task of building a relationship with students on the topof sharing such terrible news was awfully hard. Each time that I broke the news to agroup of students, I cried. There was no other way for me to do this. I had to be realwith them.Over the next year I would lose, in succession, my beloved mother-in-law, mygrandmother, and my father. In the spring of 2006 another tragedy occurred. This time itmade national news, but still struck close to home. A student in my first period class was bitten by a bat infected with rabies. Zach died very quickly after they realized what waswrong. Our entire school was in a state of shock. Seeing Zach's empty desk in my first period class brought an overwhelming sense of sadness. To cope, I leaned on theexperience I gained during my most "defining" moment. The students needed me, again.Over the next week, I heard over and over in my classes, "Mr. Duez, you are the onlyteacher that will talk to us about Zach." In my most defining moment in the classroom, I
 
learned that sometimes my students need more than a teacher. Sometimes they need afriend that understands the pain they are feeling.
Question 2 Commitment - If you could offer some words of advice orencouragement to a young teacher just beginning his/her journey in the classroomwhat would you say?
My advice to new teachers has been to be consistent and to never be afraid to ask for help. Most young teachers have a high level of enthusiasm. With that often comes a highlevel of frustration when things do not go their way. I simply tell a new teacher, thingsare not always going to go as planned. In fact, they should count on things happening inthe classroom that will backfire, blowup and overwhelm them. Be prepared to adjust, butnever give in or give up. Teaching can be the most isolated profession that I know. Rarelydo teachers get the opportunity to view 'good teaching.' Rarely are teachers a part of acomprehensive mentor program. A young teacher needs to be proactive, ask for help andseek out advice from veteran teachers. But, within their classroom walls, a young teacher needs to keep a consistent level of energy each day.I often conjure up the imagery of a sculptor when describing what it takes to be a teacher.Rome was not built in a day. A great Roman-era sculpture was not created with onesingle, powerful swing. No one could recognize
 David 
as Michelangelo began work onhis famous sculpture. But, in the end it is a priceless work of art. So it is for the student ina class that is struggling. That student needs to know that every day their teacher will bein their corner with the same persistence. Young teachers often have "great days" and"terrible days." The key is to string together many "good" days.Habits are the key to building consistency in a young teacher. One habit that I stress is toget contact information, such as email, work and home phone numbers, and evenaddresses of students and parents. Developing good habits of contacting parents regularlyeliminates many issues down the road. Students have one version of the things. Parentsshould not only hear their child's version. Parents need to hear directly from the teacher.This is positive public relations and it opens a pathway and an invitation to the parent toreciprocate communication when it is necessary.
 
It is all about customer support. I tell young teachers to deal with their students, parentsand colleagues with one question, "How can I help you?" That phrase helps to eliminatethe next set of thoughts that a young teacher has, "How can I possibly help this person, Iam overwhelmed!" A teacher can help if they keep a consistent approach and alwaysfoster communication.
Question 3 - Innovation -
 
What is different about the strategies and methods thatyou use to connect with children? What makes your classroom unique?
There is no doubt that my greatest innovation is my website and my knowledge of technology. I tell students and parents that my website is like an open house that isavailable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is the gateway into myclassroom from outside. It is the portal for any information about what we have done omay be doing in World History.During my time as a college student in the late 1980s, no one really envisioned the worldof tomorrow that we would be living in today. The term Internet was not even a term. AsI began teaching, technology quickly became a booming sector and I found myself having the opportunity to get onto my own super highway of information andopportunity. As a World Cultures teacher and coach at North Shore Middle School in theearly 1990s a need arose for a position assisting our instructional technologist. At thetime, I did not realize the advantages that a career in technology would give me. Enteringthe world of technology was the second best professional decision I ever made. The bestdecision was returning to the classroom where I could capitalize on my new skills to bring history to life for my students through various technologies.Students today crave multimedia, video, audio, and music. They consume information in bits and mega bytes. Traditional teaching methods are not as effective as they used to be.Today Power Point slide shows embedded with short and powerful video clips and audio picture shows that incorporate music give history a depth and complexity that thetextbook alone cannot supply.

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