Friday, September 3, 2010

The End of the First Week

I've now met all 36 of the students in the two classes I'm teaching this semester. I have a course release this term to help put together the Vermont State DOE ROPA report which is required of all colleges in Vermont that have teacher education programs leading to licensure. But that's another story. My major task now is to match all 36 faces with the 36 names on my class lists. I will do this by September 14th! All my first day of class nerves have gone and I'm excited to really get to know the students and help them learn the course material.

There's quite a difference between sophomores and juniors in terms of the way they are in class. On the first day of my sophomore class they just sat silently waiting. In my junior class they happily chatted as many of them have already had Education courses together. By the second day of the sophomore class they were chatting like juniors. They had already completed the first reading assignment and were eager to share their thoughts. Active participation: I think they really got it.

In addition to teaching courses SMC expects all tenured faculty to engage in "scholarly activity". This can take many forms. If you are an artist of some sort then it's a piece of art, performance or visual. If you are a scientist it is usually some form of scientific paper based on your resarch. For Education professors like me scholarly activity is more typically a paper in an Education journal such as NCTM's Teaching Children Mathematics. Last year I had two papers published and was guest editor for a New England math journal. This year I have submitted two papers with one more to go by the end of September. The first had to be revised and I haven't heard about the second one yet. Each time you get "The Letter" it's a little bit like getting your SAT results all over again.

I'm doing something different in November that I've never done before; I'm presenting a Webinar to an international audience. It's based on my current research which is in the area teaching math to students who are English Langauge Learners. More about that later.

On a personal note winter is on its way and I'm seriously thinking about taking up snowboarding to see if I can keep up with my son, Andrew. One of the fundamental beliefs I have about teaching children is that we must be very careful not to underestimate the positive and wonderful things children are capable of. Here's a YouTube video of Andrew snowboarding last winter at Bolton Valley, a wonderful ski area less than 20 miles from SMC. Stick with the video until you see him doing 360 after 360, remembering that he has Down Syndrome. I had no idea he could do this until I saw the video from the camera on Jeremy's helmet. Jeremy is the wonderful VASS volunteer who has been teaching Andrew to snowboard.

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