A Short Conversation with…Jesse McLean @jmclean77
I recently discovered a website named Teachmeet New Jersey: Fresh Ideas for Education. The site introduces educators to its readers by conducting short interviews. I really like that idea so I asked a few people from my PLN to answer a few questions about education. Enjoy.
How long have you been teaching?
8 years (9 if you count my practicum, which was a full year practicum)
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
In reviewing my educational philosophy as written on my resume, the first ⅔ of it has not changed… at all. I was surprised to see that it hadn’t, but I have always felt a strong commitment to honesty in my teaching. What I think is funny is that when I wrote my educational philosophy coming out of University I wrote about a need for commitment to the utilization of technology, I wrote about a need for differentiated instruction, I wrote about varied assessment, and I wrote about education occurring anywhere and any time. What I visualized then and what I see now when it comes to these areas are of course very different.
In the last ⅓ of my philosophy I wrote an additional statement that I introduce with,
“In addition, from my four years in alternate education…”
This ⅓ of my philosophy represents a huge change in my teaching that has had a lasting effect on me.
If so, what led to this change? Was it a gradual process or a specific event?
The change that came from teaching in an alternate environment wasn’t immediate due to a specific event, but it wasn’t all that gradual either. It happened over the course of my first year in alternate education and I would say was cemented by January or February that school year. Here is the statement from my resume:
Every student deserves the right to be treated with respect and given the chance to succeed. Too often students are labeled and discarded without us asking ourselves
“What is holding this student back? Why is this student acting out? Has anyone taken
the time to talk to this student and answer these questions?” Every effort should be
made to provide those challenged students with the support and modeling they require
to regain their direction. We can do this by taking the time to treat them with respect and provide them with stability and mentoring every school day.
Teaching in that setting with those students definitely changed more than my educational philosophy, it changed me as a person. I am a better communicator, a more compassionate educator, more resilient, more understanding and definitely more appreciative of all the wonderful people in my life.
Teaching in that situation and seeing what a student with very few positive interactions in their life is capable of when given a chance reminds me that our job as educators is an important one and we are blessed to have the opportunity. Now as an educator I know my job is to support our teachers and “clear the path” so that they are able to do the amazing work they do.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Well, as an administrator and teacher, yes. I only started using twitter in August and had just started my first year as an assistant principal. Twitter for me has opened my eyes to
a) 24 hour a day Professional development opportunities.
b) a community of educators to connect and share with.
c) a place for immediate support or answers to a question or for a resource when I need it.
In the honor of shameless self promotion I wrote about how twitter helps us continually learn and share the way we did in university in my blog post “That University Feeling”
Here is the quote that applies to this question
“Well it was late this last August that George Couros, a man many of you know of quite well now because of things like blogs and Twitter, introduced ME to blogs and Twitter. It was that conversation and the subsequent 2 months of experiment, connection and collaboration that has once again brought me back to that “University Feeling”. I connect with so many passionate educators on a daily basis, discussing issues, sharing resources and stories, all because of this new-found connection to Social Media. I may not share a cup of coffee or University class with these people, but I do have the opportunity to hear their stories and ideas, to offer them mine, and together we share, we learn and we grow. I feel alive again, I feel I am once again learning and growing, and it energizes me as I go each day and ask the same from my students.”
I think that sums it up fairly well, any other questions just let me know.