Wake Forest Master Teacher Fellows

Today I spoke to the brand new education graduate students at Wake Forest University. These are individuals who received undergraduate degrees in other disciplines; math, science, english, history, and foreign language. Wake Forest offers a one year graduate program where you can earn your masters degree and teaching license. I went through it after doing a year of graduate mathematics and I loved it! It suited me better than straight mathematics and turned me on to this career that I am so passion about!

I was so excited to meet them but did not know what I wanted to share with them. There really is so much to tell young, excited, upcoming teachers! Dr. McCoy, my former teacher, mentor, and head of the program knows me well and (tried) to help me keep it brief. It was hard – I love to talk and haven’t taught in two weeks! They were a fabulous audience and laughed a lot at the end (mostly at me). I wish I could have stayed longer, shared more, and of course talked more! But mostly I wish I could have had time to answer their questions. I remember being just where they are and all of the questions I had! I just don’t remember now what those questions were.

What I told them:

Creativity is very important – you need to be creative as their teacher AND you need to have the students create. Students take ownership when they create. This helps them become invested in what they are learning!

Use technology – I talked about wiki pages and google docs.

Don’t be afraid to be different – as new students they are the ones with the fresh ideas. Older teachers may think their ideas are crazy but don’t let that stop them!

Use blogs and twitter – Reach out and find other passionate teachers online! There is so much out there! These teachers are supportive and LOVE to share their stuff! You can find me at @jreulbach on Twitter.

Sing songs! Everyone in advertising wants a catchy jingle for a reason! It works! Find ways to get the important things you really them to remember into their heads – FOREVER!

I shared the geometry books that my students made. I have learned more from this project than anything I did all year.

Don’t forget that the person doing the most work in a classroom is usually the one doing all of the learning. That person should not be you.

Good luck class of 2011-2012! I could tell what a dynamic group you were just by being in the room with you! I wish I could help you more! Feel free to ask me questions anytime!

Welcome to a life changing career!

4 thoughts on “Wake Forest Master Teacher Fellows

  1. “Because that’s the way it’s done” is no reason to do anything. Be intentional, and monitor the effects on student learning. If you’re willing to revise based on what you notice, you’ll be great!

  2. As a second career and newish teacher of only 4 years, I have some advice to give you new grad students.

    1. You will get out of grad school exactly what you put in. You will have classmates who complain that the courses are not teaching you anything relevant (I did) or that the classes are below or above you. My response was always the same, “Did you do the reading? Did you read the footnotes? Did you then go and look up the cited articles and read them?” You see, you are the reason you are there. Your professor is a guide to your class, but YOU are the learner. Learn what you need and want to learn. If you want to learn more about Problem based learning, check out every book on it and download 100 papers on it. Read 100 blogs. Just learn.

    2. Create a Google account, learn what Reader is, and subscribe to as many teacher blogs as possible. Devote 30 minutes every morning and every afternoon to reading them. Read them all, even if you don’t agree with them. You must broaden your scope of learning and ideas dramatically in grad school.

    3. Join Twitter. NOW. Twitter is the absolute best PLC (Professional Learning Community) that exists. Follow teachers who blog about things you like to read. Participate in book clubs when you have time. If not, just read the book clubs. Those teachers either are your current PLC or your future PLC. What your district does may or may not impact your classroom teaching, but your extended PLC will impact your teaching dramatically.

    4. Set ground rules for your online habits. In 2 I said 30 min in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon. I mean that. It can turn into 2 or 3 hours easily. Establish rules for your blog posts. Establish rules for who and when you will “friend” on facebook. Make sure your district doesn’t have rules that conflict with your personal rules. Who you are online must mirror who you are in real life. Your learners will expect that, your parents will expect that, and it keeps you sane.

    I did all off these in grad school, and I had a very rewarding and challenging experience. It was worth the effort. It made me a better teacher, because I was a better learner.

  3. Oh! I can’t believe that I forgot Google reader! GREAT one there! I have it on my phone and read posts while I wait in line or have a few minutes of down time.

    And yes, sometimes my PLN sucks up all of my time. It’s so addicting! I need to make a “How to Get the Best of of Twitter” post for new teachers…

  4. My advice is for the driven ones, who tie up self-worth with performance… because teaching is EMOTIONAL:

    Know it’s okay with being mediocre, but just try to suck a little bit less each year. Surround yourself with teachers of that same philosophy, because they will carry your spirit and keep you invigorated when you aren’t. (I guess that’s largely what PLNs are for, too.)

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