What Work-Based Learning Has Taught Me about the Classroom, Work, & the Spaces Between

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In the state of Georgia, we have a work-release program for students aged 16 years or older coined Work-Based Learning (WBL). Essentially, if a WBL coordinator at a school uses the program well, WBL becomes a bridge for students from academics to the work force through meaningful internships. Most states have this sort of program and while I have learned more about it over the last three years, this is the first year I find myself in the coordinator position (along with a few other distinct roles). A coordinator is responsible for piles of data, including, yes, grades, attendance, applications, but also, inputting information into a state database, maintaining your own database, evaluations from various businesses, maintaining and developing a roster of businesses, sign-out sheets–the list really does go on and on. The amount of paperwork can certainly be justified. We’re talking about real work, real businesses, adolescents and adults working together for a common good. That all translates to a need for accountability from everyone involved.

In the opening weeks of this school year, my eyes have been opened to the challenges my upperclassmen face and the realities they face in the world waiting for them after high school. If you follow my blog, there is a good chance you know I am an advocate and proponent of using the classroom space as one where not only is content taught but soft/21st century skills are practiced as well. Hence, my strong belief in project-based learning (PBL) as a viable and important instructional method. The WBL program is meant to support growth in these areas as well. Really, before a student even qualifies for WBL at 16 the hope is they have taken at least one course in Career and Technology Education (CTE) where many of those skills are to be focused on continually. What has become apparent in the last few weeks is despite CTE, or even exposure to some PBL, many of WBL students really do lack the soft/21st century skills necessary for their success beyond the confines of high school. Continue reading

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Get Eclipsed… Totally: A Fun Video to Celebrate Friday & Next Week’s Eclipse

My district made the distinct decision to delay the release of all levels of schools for an hour this upcoming Monday to account for the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse event. Our school was tasked with determining the best way to handle the logistics of the day, so we decided to make it as celebratory as possible. The rather silly video above was shown in our advisement time today, and it’s just too much fun not to share. The Film A/V students who filmed and edited the video did a great job and are each a testament to the growth of that program on our campus (we literally put this together yesterday!). Besides dealing with the terrible, cringe-worthy grammar on the eclipse glasses–they literally say ‘Get Eclipsed Totally’–the video was a blast to make.

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy having a laugh at me and a few colleagues’ expense.

Teacher Innovation #12: Teaching with Identity and Care Ethics in Mind

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Sorry for the delay for any faithful readers, but today’s post is the last in my Summer Teacher Innovation Series. I am so grateful for the wonderful educators I have worked with and know contributing their voices to my blog. They made this series very special, and I’m honored to call many of them friends.

I wrote today’s post. Originally, I had lined up two other teachers as potential contributors to close the series out, but the start of school simply would not allow it. (I fully plan to get them in on my next guest series, though.) This post provides my own ‘teacher innovation.’ If you have followed the blog over the last few years, you know I have a passion for identity exploration and care ethics in the classroom. While I love that I dedicated my dissertation to these concepts, my current role at my school limits my traditional avenue of using the classroom as a space to encourage the growth of both. So, I have spent the last two weeks embedding these important concepts into my time as my school’s Work-Based Learning coordinator. Before you become too skeptical, keep in mind literacy and multimodal texts are everywhere in our lives, not simply confined to a classroom. In any case, I hope you find what’s inside the post insightful. Thanks as always for reading.

Previous Series Entries: Post #1 // Post #2 // Post #3 // Post #4 // Post #5 // Post #6 // Post #7 // Post #8 // Post #9 // Post #10 // Post #11 Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #11: Accessing Crowdfunding to Support Your Innovation

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The second to last post for the Summer Teacher Innovation Series comes from friend and colleague, Tyler Henry. Tyler is a jack of all trades and master of all! Well, I might be exaggerating, but Tyler is an incredibly talented educator who can do a little bit of everything. As a teacher, Tyler’s background is as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) instructor; he has typically worked with high functioning student as well as those with behavior concerns. Tyler transforms his students–that is no exaggeration. I have watched him first-hand better the lives of his student through his instruction and maybe more importantly the way he cares for them and spends time with them. Today’s post is short and to the point. Tyler shares his experience with fundraising for the classroom. Raising money for student needs is sometimes seen as taboo, and I know many teachers who are unsure of how to ask for grants or to reach out to the public for help. Hopefully today’s post will help another teacher out there find the funding they need to help innovate in their classroom.

Previous Entries in the Series: Post #1 // Post #2 // Post #3 // Post #4 // Post #5 // Post #6 // Post #7 // Post #8 // Post #9 // Post #10

By Tyler Henry

I remember my first year of teaching like it was yesterday. I had so many dreams, visions, and ideas that would increase student achievement, get them prepared for college or a career, and ultimately change my students’ lives forever. I had ideas for college visits, guest speakers, and a classroom that resembled a Starbucks coffee house. Unfortunately, I quickly learned just how limited my school’s budget was to implement life-changing learning experiences. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #10: “Innovation as Self: A Teacher Reflects on Innovation as a Pedagogical Philosophy Shift”

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Post #10 is from Dr. Kim Foster, a practicing ELA teacher with nearly a decade of classroom experience. I met Dr. Foster when we both started our doctoral studies in 2013 and from day one, she was both a good friend and someone who challenged my own intellectual aptitude as a graduate student. (I grew to be a better doc student because of her; although, she is too humble to agree to that.) Dr. Foster has my utmost respect and is the embodiment of what it means to foster (no pun intended) caring relationships in the classroom and to have a growth mindset. Her post reflects on her evolution in pedagogical philosophy and pedagogy in the classroom over the course of her career and particularly the last four years of research. Much like myself, Dr. Foster experienced a seismic shift in her pedagogical approach. If you want delve into culturally relevant pedagogy and a critical approach to teaching in the classroom, you do not want to miss reading this post. Even if you’re not a teacher, this post highlights how our best teachers grow and change student lives.

Previous Entries in the Series: Post #1 // Post #2 // Post #3 // Post #4 // Post #5 // Post #6 // Post #7 // Post #8 // Post #9

By Dr. Kim Foster

When Kyle asked me to participate in this “innovation” series, I immediately said yes because Kyle is awesome, and I love to write about my classroom. However, the more I pondered on my teaching, the more I concluded, “What I do in the classroom is really not that super innovative…what does it mean to be innovative?” Well, I googled it because that is how we find quick answers these days. Google claims that innovating is “to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” As I mulled over my thoughts, what I determined is that my mindset as a teacher has been in a process of innovation for the past four years. In this post, I will share about an unanticipated shift in my pedagogical approach that came about when I started a doctoral program (how I met Kyle) to learn more about how to teach more effectively, and what I gained can not be quantified by insignificant numbers or qualified by mere words. I am the result of innovation, and I hope that all teachers can find encouragement in allowing yourself to be refined, revived, and renewed in ways that you may never know that you need. I start with a reminiscent scene from ten years ago during my student teaching; I then share a brief description of the knowledge that sparked my journey. I move to a reflection from my dissertation research; and I end with a reflection as I move into my tenth year of teaching. Continue reading