Educator with 20+ years of experience
Educator with 20+ years of experience
I have dedicated my professional life to education: I have twenty years of experience in the public schools. My current position is in an elementary school, though I have worked or taught at every level, including community college. I possess multiple college degrees, but am very patient and enjoy trying to find ways to explain things so they make sense to a student. I'm also the parent of two school-age children. Here's a statement of my educational philosophy:
When I was young, I saw a film clip that made a deep impression upon my view of the world. In it, someone was explaining how holograms are produced. In this case, the image was embedded in a special glass plate through which a laser beam was projected. The image could be seen in the glass plate, and the plate was turned, the image turned as though it were a three-dimensional object. When a laser beam passed through the image, a three-dimensional projection was created. The host explained that such plates have some interesting properties, and to demonstrate one of them, he shattered the glass plate into many tiny pieces. He picked up different shards of the glass and showed that within each piece, the original image remained entirely intact, and retained the same three-dimensional properties possessed by the original, intact glass plate.
The whole was contained in every part: this concept informs my approach to education. Much like the image in the hologram, the material world is interconnected, where the whole can be observed in the parts on every scale. I find that such interconnectedness exists on the conceptual level as well: all information is embedded within and connected to all other information. Stated another way, all subject matter is contained within and connected to all other subject matter.
What does this mean for educational practice? Schools deliver curricula organized by “subjects,” which are usually organized in discrete classes. While there are many practical reasons to organize teaching in this way, an unintended consequence of such a framework is that it creates and maintains the impression that subjects are separate from one another, that they actually function within the same “boxes” that are placed around them to serve scheduling and grading necessities. An important role of an educational leader, then, is to ensure that the connections between subjects are not limited by the logistics of running a school. Therefore, it is critical that pedagogy is based within project-based learning, cross-disciplinary connections, and student collaboration, all within the context of teacher as a “learning leader,” a facilitator of students’ progress that takes into account their collective and individual strengths. and weaknesses.
While they are important for all students at all grade levels, these connections are particularly important for middle schoolers for several reasons. From a neurological perspective, their brains are growing at a rate matched only by their infancy. With such growth comes “pruning” of the neurons that are not being used effectively, with the effectiveness determined by the degree to which neurons are connecting to others. Hence, stimulating connectivity stimulates neurological growth and retention. From an intellectual standpoint, students are beginning their trajectory into higher academics, and toward career choices. In a societal context in which integration on all levels is generally valued, it is important that the stage is set for the minds to form such thought-habits at this stage of their development. From a socio-emotional standpoint, students are seeking belongingness with their peers, and yearn for adult attention that provides safety and structure while respecting students’ need for autonomy. A connected curriculum provides the milieu in which students can form such inter- and intra-personal connections.
Delivering such a curriculum also carries implication for teachers and parents. For the curricular and pedagogical connectivity to be authentic to students, they must be engaged in personal and collective processes that parallel their students’. Collaboration and cross-disciplinary connections occur in a climate of trust and shared purpose; it is therefore the role of an educational leader to also model and support those characteristics in every aspect of the school functioning. If teachers are not engaged in their own development, it would be difficult, if not inauthentic, for them communicate the expectation to their students that they do the same.
My educational philosophy is based in how I see the world: the whole is contained in every part, and every part contains every other part. The quality of our teaching depends on the quality of our learning.
Eric hasn’t set a schedule.