This is my responses to the reflection questions at the end of the Introduction - "Because of a Teacher" from the book "Innovate Inside the Box" by George Couros and Katie Novak.
1. Think of one educator who had an impact on you as a student in a positive way. What did they do that made an impact?
Mr. Bodley - 8th grade science. If you want to talk about a teacher that knows how to create relationships with his students, I can't think of a teacher I had in school that was better at it than Steve. He had a way of motivating us to be the best version of ourselves not only in his classroom, but all the time. He made his content engaging and empowered his students to explore their passions. I distinctly remember having his class when the tsunami hit Indonesia in late 2004. When we returned from Christmas break, a few friends and I wanted to do some type of fundraiser to help support the rebuilding cause. We approached him to help us because we knew he supported us in every way, not just in science class. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time in his classroom as a pre-service teacher, and saw even more evidently the power of building relationships with students. When I am struggling for inspiration or looking for a way to connect with a student, I often think back to how Mr. Bodley treated his students with compassion and respect and try to emulate those actions.
2. Think of a challenge in your lifetime, be it personal or professional. How did you learn and grow from that experience.
My first year teaching was perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I loved the people I worked with - students and adults - but I was not ready for the challenges that faced me in a school and social environment that was much different than anything I was used to. I quickly learned many lessons that stick with me today; here are the top two:
I was fortunate to be able to be part of a year-long cohort that focused on experiencing the design thinking process and using that to address a need in our school building. (This is also where I first heard George speak.) After that program, I realized that Design Thinking was something I needed to be using in my math classroom. I had always struggled with how to connect my math concepts to real-life and how to make my class more "problem-based", and I saw Design Thinking as a great solution. I started by replacing one test with a Design Thinking project. My students tackled the challenge, 'How Might We Show Our Knowledge of Operations with Rational Numbers?' The projects I got back were more than I could have imagined! In one of my proudest teaching memories, one of my groups decided to hold a bake-sale fundraiser and show how they used operations with fractions and decimals in their budget and record keeping. They held the fundraiser at the workplace of one of their parents, and I stopped by after school to get my baked good! At the end of the project, the donated almost $150 to a local charity. Through that process, I learned that when you give students control, they will amaze you. From then on, I've tried to find any way possible to incorporate design thinking, and I'm thrilled to now be teaching a course where half of the focus is specifically design thinking. I can't wait to see what my kids accomplish!