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How does the culture of your current teaching environment differ from the learning environment you experienced as a student?

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For 10 years I attended a small rural school with no more than 80 students. I had the same teacher for 1st to 5th grade. It was in 4th grade that we got our first apple box computer. Standardized tests were not a big thing and we as students had plenty of playtime learning. My favorite memory was teddy bear day. We spent time building these cardboard houses and one day we got to bring our teddy bears to school for a movie party day with our teddy. “ Play, questioning, and – perhaps most important – imagination lie at the very heart of arc-of-life learning.” (Thomas and Brown, 68 of 2399) I remember learning my multiplication from a funny rap cassette and we knew how to make a multiplication chart.

Jr. high (6-8th grade) was different because I had three teachers and they were different every year. I hated spelling and got my first “F” on my progress report. Science was a blast because it was all project based. We spent most of the fall and spring outside. I got to take a shop class and my parents still have my projects to this day. School was fun and we wanted to go everyday. But because I love challenge I applied and got accepted to Mount Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) in Sitka, Alaska. The culture was surely different! I was around people of all different cultures and learned of places I had never heard of. Sitka was rainy and hardly any snow. The food was different and of course the education was hard. I loved my three years in Sitka. Again we had tests but nothing standardized except SAT and ACT oh and maybe ASVAB.

Now in 2013, I would not want to be a kid in school. NCLB had placed a lot of pressure on testing and high performance. I mean to be tested from kindergarten to twelfth grade is hard on a student. It seems that we lose so many school days (academic time) to testing. As a teacher I get tired of the all testing, I can imagine how the students feel. Students are labeled from kindergarten and for some that follows them all the way through school. I teach at an alternative high school and I had a young man last year that NEVER passed an SBA in his entire until his senior year. It took us three years to change the way he thought about testing and himself. We as a staff focused on the reading HSGQE with him and he passed it will flying colors. We built up his confidence in himself. He knew how to read, he just had that mind set that I am not smart enough pass. I never pass anything. “The ultimate endpoint of a mechanistic perspective is efficiency: The goal is learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. In this teaching-based approach, standardization is reasonable way to do this, and testing is a reasonable way to measure the result.” (Thomas and Brown, 332 of 2399) But not everyone is great at taking standardized test and the students are only valued for the scores that get on these tests. I am not a great test taker and I know that I would have had trouble in school if I had to pass these tests.

We live in a technology age. We need to spend our time utilizing technology instead of fighting with our students to ‘put your cell phone’, ‘put your Ipad/Ipod away’, or ‘you don’t need a computer’. I have a problem with this at my school because the policy has this and I want to do this. Or we have limitations and I know that if we teach the students we will have more success. I have learned a lot for my own children just by letting explore on our computer at home. My four year old know how to work my phone better than I can. He is currently teaching me how to play mine craft.

I love my job as a teacher because of the difference I get to make in my students lived. I am love that I work at an alternative school and our curriculum and schedule is different than the main high school. I use the next generation science standard (just adopted by our school), like I am suppose to but I don’t focus on testing. I focus on learning is fun and I seem to have more success with my students.

Over all, culture as changed as a whole. In an article titled, 5 Aspects of K-12 life that have changed since the 1990s says the 5 aspects are

  1. LGBT tolerance: the world is far more accepting
  2. The Perception of Higher Education
  3. ADHD/Overmedication: Years ago, when a kid was misbehaved or didn’t pay attention, they were punished in some way. Now this behavior isn’t the kid’s fault.
  4. Role Models
  5. Toy guns/Threats of Violence in the Classroom.

Caldwell, Suzanna. (2012-11-26). Revolution in rural Alaska education? Many embracing regional schools. http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/revolution-rural-alaska-education-many-embracing-regional-schools

Saccaro, Matt. (2013-01-27). 5 Aspects of K-12 Life That Have Changed Since the 1990s. http://thoughtcatalog.com/m-saccaro/2013/01/5-aspects-of-k-12-life-that-have-changed-since-the-1990s/

Thomas, Douglas; Brown, John Seely (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Location 319). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.

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