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cc flickr photo by azjd

In my last post, Re-engaging with a Growth Mindset, I mentioned that I was going to be talking to students in several of our seventh grade math classes — giving a pep talk, of sorts.  We are a relatively “high poverty” school, and many of our students struggle with connection, and motivation at school.  I was asked by a few of our math teachers to talk with students about credits, and what it takes to get to the eighth grade.

Honestly, I was skeptical that a discussion about credits would have an impact, but I enjoy being in the classroom, so I agreed to do presentations last Wednesday.  I chose to focus a majority of my time on the notion that we all have choices we can make, and we can all get better at things — with practice and determination (a growth mindset).  I even spent a little time talking about how I recently learned to tie a bow tie, a challenge that was a bit frustrating for me (most students had noticed that I had been wearing bow ties lately).

As I talked to students throughout the day on Wednesday, I couldn’t help but think of a quote by Richard Elmore, “Teaching isn’t rocket science.  It is, in fact, far more complex and demanding work than rocket science.”  I don’t think I need to tell this audience that teaching is tough.  The diversity (academic, cultural, motivational, socio-economic, etc.) in each classroom where I spoke to was staggering.  Accommodating for the needs of these students is an incredible challenge.

I am a firm believer in blogging as a form of reflective practice, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to interact with peers through social media such as Twitter.  However, I think it is critical that we share our struggles, as well as our successes — lest we gloss over the challenges encountered in the practice of teaching.  Sometimes, I think we make things sound too easy, or we offer “simple” solutions to complex problems.  Responses that might be discouraging to those who find themselves neck-deep in the trenches of a difficult classroom, or school setting.  Sometimes it is encouraging just to know that there are others who have the same concerns, and face the same challenges.

I also think it is important to remember that we teach for today, but also for tomorrow, and for the future.  The culture of standardized testing, and accountability, demands a quick turnaround on results, but for some kids, the value of our teaching, connections, and relationships may not be evident for years to come.  Remember that when you encounter challenging students, kids who push your buttons, kids who have lost hope, or those who seem unmotivated.  Don’t give up — teach for the future.

Here is the Prezi I used as a guide for my discussion.  It lacks some of my comments, and anecdotes, but I think you’ll get the picture.  Let me know what you think.

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3 thoughts on “Teach for Today…and Tomorrow

  • February 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm
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    Wow, that is one word I can use that relays my emotions about this post. The video within your Prezi presentation was amazing. To be more specific I loved how the video gives the inspiration to not give up, to be yourself, but still respect the teacher. That idea melds so well with the information on credits. It said to me “hey! school is going to be tough, but you need those credits! Do not be afraid to be yourself and rely on your teacher. They are there for a reason.” I could not help to notice that you seem to have a love for the profession? That is GREAT! There needs to be more teachers like you out there Mr.Delp!

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  • April 3, 2014 at 11:49 am
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    My name is Mallory and I am a student at the University of South Alabama in the EDM310 class. This post is amazing to me because you have such valid points. I think you are so right that people need to share their failures and success when they aare blogging or tweeting because that way others have something to think about if they are in similar situations. I also think that your presentation was an awesome way to show your students that their decisions matter. I like that you chose to use the presentation instead of just talking to the students about credits. It really shows that you care.

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  • April 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm
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    My name is Emily Huff and I’m an EDM 310 student at the University of South Alabama. You gave some great advice in your post that will help me as a future educator. Your presentation was great and I love how you chose to focus on the topic that we all have choices we can make, and we can all get better at things with practice and determination. I think this a great piece of advice that teachers and students should be told. I also love blogging and using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I agree with you that we should share our successes and struggles through social media. There are other teachers and students out there who are facing similar challenges and have the same concerns. You gave me some great points in your post that I will keep in mind as I become a future educator.

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