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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fountain of Youth Vial #5 - Pursue Excellence but Remain Fluid



I know some teachers so in pursuit of excellence in knowledge that they lose excellence in teaching!

What does excellence in teaching mean to me?

  • My students are able to solve problems not just memorize answers.

  • My teaching evolves to use new tools in meaningful, effective ways.

  • My students use their mind and creativity in class.
    I can force students to sit in my class, I cannot force them to engage themselves and harness their creativity and excitement. When this happens, I reflect on how to do it again for to me it means I have done something excellent!

  • I understand my subject is part of a total knowledge base not a universe unto itself. In this vein, I cooperate with teachers in other departments on meaningful projects.

  • I am in synch with my student's lives, emotions, and state of mind.

  • I value education and commit to daily reading, learning, and contemplation.

  • I will attend every class, seminar, and event that is relevant with a good attitude and ready to learn. I will model the behavior I value in my students as I attend!

  • I will not have not-invented-here egotism that prohibits me from learning from those who know more than me or do things differently.l

  • My enthusiasm for my subject will show in unguarded passion as I teach.

  • I will provide timely if not immediate feedback to improve and correct as I am teaching. My students will know their average and how their grades affect that average. My gradebook will not be a bottomless cauldron of mystery from which a grade bubbles forth randomly at the end of the semester.

  • I will give ways for students to win and feel like winners! They will understand that their grade is controlled by their decisions to participate, study, and learn.

  • I will be excellent! I will know I've given my all! I will not quit until I feel that I am teaching each child!

  • As I teach I will be fluid! Let me explain:
I'm not talking about being flexible. A rubber band is flexible and it can snap! Fluid molds itself to its container.

When working with teenagers you must read them, understand them, and engage them. You must be excited! You must take your expertise in your subject and tailor it to the class learning styles, motivations, and ability level.

This is why I love the Socratic method. When you teach by asking questions, you mold your classroom instruction to the current knowledge base of your students. This does not mean that you randomly talk about whatever they want to discuss. You KNOW what needs to be taught. It is your job to direct the discussion, ask appropriate questions, and encourage response. This fluid method of teaching requires a lot from you but you reap great rewards in test results.

The students who make the highest grades in my Computer Science are those who participate in class discussions and take notes. This engages their voice, their fingers, their ears, and ultimately their minds.

This all sounds well and good and "lovey dovey" but what about achieving objectives?


I am as goal oriented as they come. I have a business and sales background and can rarely think of a time I haven't met my "goal" or "numbers" in business.

I've also never had a time when I didn't teach more than was required of me. I am intense!

If you're reading this and blogging then I can just about guarantee that you are an intense perfectionist! Most bloggers and blog readers now are early adopter type-A people. It is this type of person that must temper their perfectionism with a fluidity.

Slackers are fluid but must pursue excellence! You MUST have both!

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