Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Be A Man

Let me start this by stating I have two sons and two brothers. I grew up wrestling, punching, fighting, driving my parents crazy, and loving every minute of it. Currently, my sons are doing the exact same thing and it drives my wife nuts. My response to their behavior is often, “that’s boys for you.” With this in mind, I have a belief based on my experience as a boy, brother, father, friend and teacher.

This post has been rolling around in my head for some time now. I finally decided to write it after a letter I received from a former male student. This particular student was from a household with no father and he came in a very angry and confused young man. I spent a great deal of time, and energy working with this student during the year he was in my class. There were days when we got into heated arguments and days were we talked very deep and personally. In his letter to me, he told me that I taught him how to “be a man”, and it was something we would never forget.

My belief is positive male role models are necessary for boys in school. Simply put, we need more male teachers. I am not saying female teachers are not good with male students, at least not completely. Generally speaking, boys have different electrical and plumbing that dictates their behaviors and actions. To truly understand a boy, you need to be one, or have been one... Again, I know some fantastic female teachers who have a great ability to connect with their male students. However, there is an increasingly larger group of male students that are in need of positive male role models.

Every year more and more students are coming from divorced homes or homes without a stable father figure. I am not making any judgments about family dynamics or lifestyle choices but this is a reality of the world we live in. These boys need a stable male role model to teach them how to be a man.

With this in mind, we need more positive male role models in our schools to help these boys navigate the adolescent years that determine what kind of man they will become in adulthood. For those male teachers out there, look for those young men in your class that don’t have a strong male figure in their lives and make the effort to connect with them and show them to become a man.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Class Update Four - One to One is the Best Way

First of all, this is a picture I took this afternoon in my backyard. My sons were coloring the bricks on our patio and this is what they produced. This is veeeery loosely connected in that this was some one on one (two) time with my sons this afternoon.


This is my latest update from my Language Arts class that has become completely student driven as of late. I have learned another lesson in my experiences with my students in the past few days. This seemingly simple and yet often over looked lesson is,

one to one is always the best way to teach.
In this day in age when people are pushing bigger class sizes to offset budget cuts, it makes no sense to me. The other day my students were working on the various learning standards and activities. One student was doing a research paper on Bee Keeping, which is a topic that I have absolutely no knowledge of whatsoever. This particular student’s go to resource was the encyclopedia, which is typically the starting point for most students. I then worked with her as we checked out some online journals which yielded little for her topic. We then took it to the next step and checked out some bee keepers blogs which is eye opening for both of us. It was great to see this student’s face when she realized people actually wrote on blogs about their jobs. As we looked at one of the blogs, she noticed there was a phone number on the blog to contact the “hive”. I asked her if she wanted to call the hive and talk to someone there. Her initial response was, “Can, I?” She was blown away by the idea that she would be able to find a real person and then be able to call them. I set her up with a phone and she called the beekeeper and interviewed them as a primary source for her research.

This was a great day for me because as I looked up at the clock, I had spent nearly the entire class period with one student. The rest of the students were engaged in their work while I was able to focus strictly on one student’s needs. By far this was one of the most productive days as a teacher because of the amount of individual progress I was able to make with one student. If it is at all possible, I suggest you seek out those opportunities to have those one on one conversations with your students and engage in their work with them. Both of you will learn more and be better for it.

For me, one to one is not a technology relationship, but a personal relationship.