Author: jmvann

Suicide on Campus

Wow, what a heavy article. Unfortunately this is nothing new to many of us up here in Alaska. One benefit of being in Alaska though is that people seem more used to the depression that comes, and while this is definitely not a good thing, in many cases it does ease people up to talk about it. In the article, Pennface and Duck syndrome and other such coping mechanisms where we pretend nothing is wrong does paint a picture of many places and people, and while there is definitely an element of that here, there is also an openness that allows us to talk to each other about what is really going on below the surface.

For our students, it is probably even more pronounced, many of them having lived here their whole life. Suicide seems generational and especially out in the villages, but truly everywhere, the rate has been steadily increasing. The sense of hopelessness and uselessness that accompanies academic and technological stagnation is staggering. I see it with my little brother’s generation as well as my own, the lack of needing to do anything to survive instills this sense of uselessness and makes it harder to find the purpose.

As teachers we are instrumental in our student’s lives. We can’t make them do anything, but we can encourage them to find hobbies and reconsider the sense of purpose. Personally, I believe our purpose is what we make it, and primarily should be to enjoy life and where we are. We can help the kids find this purpose and instill the idea that they don’t need to be the best at their chosen fields, rather to find a field that they like and want to do. Every person is extremely complex, but needs to find at least one thing they can call their own, or a topic that they want to pursue.

Ahh, the complexities of life and wants and purpose. Who truly knows the answer. All we can do is listen, react, adapt, and let the students know that we are in their corner, no matter what happens. Let the care shine through…

CM reflection

My mentor teacher is Lars Hansen. He teaches four different subjects: Sophomore Chemistry, Junior Physics I, Senior Physics II, and AP Calculus. Because of this, there is a very large spread of students, meaning a large variance in how Mr. Hansen manages his classroom. I will begin reflecting with the simplest: AP Calculus and Physics II. While these seniors will be unruly by the end of the year, they are quite docile now. Many have had Mr. Hansen for 2 years already, so they are already very respectful of him. There are few issues in these classes, and at this point Mr. Hansen has it down to a rhythm between notes, booklets, labs, and tests.

In all of his classes, there are few rules. We use a BYOD policy, which seems to work fairly well (with the exception of the smarter, bored kids who we ‘don’t see’). There is an expectation for the kids to do their work on time and completely, to raise their hands and to uphold a general level of respect for each other as well as for us. Most of these work very well, and there are few problems that arise in the classroom. I think a good part of this is that they are Hutch students and in general are all very respectful in the classroom.

Beginning and ending class are fairly straightforward in Mr. Hansen’s classes. The structure is fairly well set in the homework/labs in the booklets. Many of Mr. Hansen’s classes are lecture based, with structured group work built into the format. Because of this, many of the classes start and end the same way. Mr. Hansen starts with going over the previous night’s homework, asking them to agree on a couple problems which they want to see, and doing those problems on the board for them. Then after strumming the piano he has at the back of the room (signaling the start of the notes) he dives in, beginning with a short hook and then lecturing. He generally tries to end about five minutes early to give them time to start the homework and get a feel for the kind of problems that are required that week.

The only slight classroom management that Mr. Hansen has to actively do is with the sophomore chemistry classes and the junior AP physics class. These are still very good students, however there are more than 30 of them in each class, meaning that there is a lot of distractions that happen, and the room is full. Classroom management in these classes is still fairly straightforward, and the content and expectations are still the same, however there are a lot more reminders to focus and to be quiet during the classes. This is to be expected, however Mr. Hansen does a very good job at keeping them on point and focused for the majority of the class.

All in all, there is a lot that I am learning from Mr. Hansen, but this Hutch internship does not constitute a training for classroom management as much as teaching, as the issues we have to deal with are much less than in other schools I believe.

What I wish…

After reading through both articles I reflected on my experiences growing up. In the  What I wish my Professor had told me  article, Jennifer Collins says that a passion to work for kids isn’t enough. Also to be included are assessments, paperwork, grading, and time management. While this is true, I still believe that passion is the most important part of being a teacher. Everything else needs to be included of course, but if the passion is there, everything else comes more easily.

“Let’s care shine through’ article reminds teachers that kids always come first. It urges teachers to show their human side to their students. When the human element is exposed, kids are more likely to learn. It shouldn’t matter how a child dresses, but that they are there to learn, and it is important that every student sees this care and knows they are wanted and appreciated.

I will always show my human side, and try to show kids that I truly care for them and their learning. I will expect a lot of my students, but teach with enthusiasm. I will be myself and expect students to do the same. Let the “care shine through”!

Personalized Learning, Yay?

Personalized learning is the new trend, as we all know. Many classrooms around the world have been able to implement it successfully, but all of these have a wide array of resources and different classroom styles that won’t work for everybody. There are many benefits to personalized learning in an ideal sense. Being able to target individual concepts at the need basis is an amazing idea. Being able to focus on different content areas at the same time with different kids also sounds like a great idea. In a one to one world with no technology issues and motivated students this is ideal.

However, here I am in a high school classroom, responsible to teach the same content to every student, and cover an extremely large breadth of information in one year. Personalized learning for the gifted individuals is great, as it lets them take learning into their own hands, letting you spend more time with the students that need more time. However, what do you do with the unmotivated students? You cannot spend all your time with them, but you still are responsible to get them to learn the content. Its a bizarre catch 22 that I guess we will be in charge of solving.

In our classroom, we use a premade booklet with all the homework problems and lab for the year (science/math). Ideally, this could be expanded to organized worksheets where the students work on their own to complete the content in as little time as possible, to maximize the amount they can go through. However, students enjoy the lecture (at least in these classes) and I think they would be bored after a time of this same routine.

I am not opposed or for personalized learning. I think it can work, and is a great idea. I just worry about the kids that are already at risk.

DACA – Helping the Dreamers

DACA, or deferred action for childhood arrivals, is a program established by Obama in 2012 to help the children who arrived illegally, or rather whose parents decided to come illegally into the country and brought them, to be eligible for 2 year renewable work permits. This september, Trump rescinded this act, marking a new age of inhumanitarianism in the United States.

This bill had helped families both economically and psychologically, reducing the rate of poverty in households affected. Felons are not eligible, so it is arguable that this bill also decreased the amount of felons who knew they would be denied coverage should they commit a crime.

Congress has delayed trumps act 6 months to figure out what to do with those previously covered. All in all, this was a good bill that helped a good number of families and I am sad to see what this country is coming to. Is this teaching certificate good in Canada?

Joshua Vann – Hello Everybody!

Hello class,

My name is Joshua Vann, but please, call me Josh. This will be my third year up in Fairbanks, and so far I’ve been having a great time. The first two years were spent primarily up in Reichardt (Natural Science Building) working on my Master’s degree in physics. I must say, compared to the dry style with which those courses were taught, I am extremely excited to be moving over to education. Active learning!

Anyway, I did my undergraduate school down in Denver, learning some things about Math and Chemistry, and grew up in Nashville. Lots of fun times, a few bad times, but one of my core philosophies is that people are not defined by the things that happen to them, rather it is how we react to these hard times.

Anyway, I play music in Fairbanks, I rock climb, ice climb, and like to be outside. I’ve been student teaching at Hutch High school (Math, Chem, and Physics). I’ve been TA’ing Physics labs at the university, though this year I’m taking on Chemistry labs. I look forward to getting to know you all.