About Me

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MN, United States
Tutor, Business Owner, Technology innovator

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lost in Time...

Happy Holidays!-from Sheldahls
I was having so much fun teaching at Adrian School on a long term substitute assignment (plus others since I started back up in September, including Windom ISD 177) I forgot to share my experiences as I went along.  A lot has happened since I last posted....

During this summer, I moved to southwestern Minnesota, because my wife got her first job teaching choir.  I love to remind her about Pascal's sentiment about music as "sound with math," but not too frequently.  I looked for further adjunct work, but all the colleges nearby had enough educators.  The area I now live in has a "nest" of communities, and I have yet to explore them all.  I may well do some site visits to get the attitudes of the surrounding district principals, and so far I'm pretty pumped.  It's refreshing to get new perspectives, and their staff are open to tell you just about everything that goes in on their districts. (which for the most part has been pretty productive).

This is for the students who Googled me and found those dorky, (creepy?), and somewhat boring videos about how to do stuff on YouTube.  I admit I had to save the good stuff, because some of it was proprietary and for another school/entity at one point I did work with.  My tutor sessions have NOT been recorded, since I did not receive any general releases by the students I worked with to use as examples (Bummer!).

For the students:  You guys are amazing.  I do not know what you are like in other classes (though I can well imagine from the stories I heard in the break room!) but the more I got to know you, the more I understood how you thought, learned, (and even lack of concern for your math learning).  I only had one quarter with you, and so I did not deploy all of my devices and strategies for your learning, but noticed an underlying excitement about learning math together collectively.  It may be the generation, but the classroom behaved better when allowed to work together, and not just in a sluff sense.  As I walked around (when feasible), I was so proud of many who taught, exampled, explained, and helped their classmates understand the subject matter better.

Changing tenses here, these students, in my opinion, are ready for the next step in the evolution of content teaching, where the teacher becomes the facilitator and co-learner in the process.  The recipe, as it were, seems to be working for them through the lens that I observed.  Why do I state it like this?  Because of the demographics, the factors involved, including myself as an experienced teacher akin to a guest conductor to an orchestra, who may demonstrate some unique dynamics which might never be repeated again.

That, I admit, is the FUN of substitute teaching; to be like a visiting grandpa who spoils his grandkids, shows how much he loves them, and then leaves them back in the care of their returning parents.  As much as I liked the experience, I still desire a more permanent endeavor to continue my research where I left off with my grad work in incidental learning. (as well as continue providing professional development to content area teachers).

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Monday, June 10, 2013

Not Growing is Dying

I don't know who coined it, perhaps in the sports realm, it seems true in today's competitive 150 applicants per job market. (no that is not a researched number).  Schools tout for change (especially when listening to them in the interview), but ironically you are measured how well you make the status quo look good while trying to implement change.  I have temporarily dropped off the regular blog trail, so let me share why.

These two concepts are in-congruent with each other, as I am certain Dr. Scott McCloud has indicated in his prior blogs.  As it stands, however, I forged ahead and went "back to school."  I took two concentrated classes over the Internet (since twin cities parking, traffic, and hotel stay were additional costs I could not arrange in my budget).  I took two classes, CompTIA(R)'s A+ training, and CompTIA(R)'s Network+.  The  difference between the two seems to be logic.

Media Center, C. Sheldahl  (C) 2013
I expected to pass the certification exams to the A+ with flying colors, because the class did not seem so hard.  There was a notable shift in the way I understood learning...this did not seem like learning, eight hours a day for five days.  I studied, but I should have practiced more, because I set a date for the exam before completely mastering the practice exams (1st mistake).  Then I set the time for the second test before waiting for the results of the first test (2nd mistake).  I have learned a lot from failing, and in this case, the learning not going to underestimate the value of studying and practicing before I schedule the exam for it.  I even went on the recommendation of a colleague, and bought extra books which included CD's so I install practice tests on my computer.
was enormous.  Again, I went through (sitting) eight hours a day for five days, but I expect the Network+ test to make more sense (because a lot of it is terms and mind-mapping).  But I am going to practice for 95% before I schedule the exam.  (It helps to follow sound advice).

Why am I sharing this?  I believe if I do not try to improve (like the "playing" I did when I was in school to figure out computers) or try learning to create more, or be more resourceful, I will go into atrophy.  The only reason why I am willing to go through a nightmare of studying is the hope that the outcome will benefit the students with whom I come into contact (if not my children first).  I am not "dying" if I pick myself up, dust myself off, and refuse to give up until I have attained those certifications.  It goes back to the saying I tell my own children, "If you have done something once, you can do it again."

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Monday, April 15, 2013

Late...hopefully not too late to dinner

I have noticed I haven't blogged in a LONG, long time.  The truth is, I have been caught up in being an adjunct a local college, subbing, and working as an online educational consultant (legal way of saying I'm a teacher, but I get a stipend).

The communication part is something which I have lacked in maintaining; if only I could roll back the clock and share how much I have learned with the students at the college, public school, and online environments.  Each have their characteristics, in their own right.

Let's start at the public school.
I have been subbing for many assignments that span from kindergarten through senior high.  The elementary students require specific attention and guidance from teachers as leaders and adult figures.  I have found that each district I have subbed in (both in Iowa and Minnesota) have their own unique culture, norms, and routines.  Remembering each place's footprint is a real skill (and you do NOT want to confuse one classroom for another).

Middle school, that's where they try to find their identity as young people, can be fun AND a challenge, but that's with any situation. How you succeed in engaging these fine young minds take firm fairness, as well as inspiration to do more than "be cool."  I mentioned last fall about having a long term assignment in the middle school, a developing that culture was fun; at the same time I was glad to let it go--only because I do not consider myself versed in earth science.

High school, they are more mature, have deeper relationships, but can vary GREATLY between districts to their level of appropriateness, autonomy, and attitudes toward learning.  Having a big smile and having a Teddy Roosevelt attitude may get you compliance.  They care more about what you know of their interests (have you asked lately?).  The online students probably have been disregarded by adults before, so it is even more important to share in the cyber world how much interest you have in their education and lives (not TOO much here, you don't need creepy tree house).  I can go on and on, but having a senior this year is getting me prepared for the horizon I am going to see between high school and college.

Speaking of college, this is my maiden voyage so to speak, to teach a block one professional education.  It is different level of leadership I have had to exercise this semester.  The expectations are higher, the students are better behaved, but there is also a lot more work involved in maintaining the flow of learning.  You hear the saying, with great power comes great responsibility; I can now visualize what that means.  What is even more interesting, is how much I can do with less.  What I mean is, it is a two credit class, and the students are probably feeling overwhelmed, but if only I could capture the growth they are going through.  It is nothing compared to the secondary level.

I have taught adults as well, but usually they either want to learn professional development, or they are forced to learn by their administrators.  The latter is unfortunate, because the idea of community learning is rich with so many different talents coming together.

This is longer than I planned, so will leave the rest for next time.

Til I chalk again,

Cory "Mr. Shel" Sheldahl