Bond with James

Thursday, July 6, 2017

High School Science Teacher Vlog #4 | My Student Teaching Experience

Join me as I share my student teaching experience, as well as my experience as a collaborative teacher (host) for student teachers. What was your student teaching experience like? 
[See below for additional info]

Additional insight:

While my student teaching was 15 years ago, the experience is still fresh in my memory. Perhaps I remember it so well due to my anxiety and the fact that I basically taught the two courses unsupervised.  Regardless of that particular situation, it still was a great experience.  I was fortunate enough to complete student teaching assignments at various primary and secondary schools; however, my semester-long experience is the event that I speak about in this particular video. 

I also had a few stints as a (host) cooperating teacher for several student teachers.  I shared my last experience - which was 7 years ago before I left the classroom for various instructional leadership positions.  In all cases, I made sure to allow my student teachers the opportunities to experience the life of a teacher (or at least as close as possible in order to make their transition a little easier). 

If you're thinking about becoming a teacher or about to start your student teaching assignment, then, as I repeated SEVERAL times in the video, take advantage of all the opportunities and commit yourself to the experience.  Best of luck on your teaching journey and I hope I was able to provide an alternative insight to a topic you may have already come across. Have a great day!


Feel free to share in the Comments section (here or on my YouTube channel). Also, if anything in the video resonated with you, then make sure to Like and/or Subscribe so that you can receive weekly vloggin updates!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

High School Science Teacher Vlog #3 | My Decision to Return to Teaching

I decided to make this video because people always ask me why I made the decision to leave higher positions and return to teaching. I returned to the classroom during the 2016-2017 school year and taught science (biology and environmental systems) at a Title 1 high school.  Prior to that, I was a campus assistant principal (at the same school) and prior to that, I was a district-level science instructional specialist for high schools. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

High School Science Teacher Vlog #2 | Curriculum Design: Backward Planning

Join me as I discuss my poor curriculum design process as a new teacher and how I eventually developed those skills; which helped me later on in my career (as a district instructional specialist and campus assistant principal). 
If you are unfamiliar with the Backward Design process or wish to advance your career as an instructional leader (administrator, department chair, or instructional coach/specialist), then I recommend reading the book, Understanding by Design, by Wiggins and McTighe.  Furthermore, the framework serves as an excellent curriculum model to assist you in the development of your yearly curriculum.

The book goes into much more detail than what I shared in the video. For example, the book describes how teachers should unpack (and repack) their learning standards.  It also talks about mistakes of curriculum development - coverage and activity-oriented design; which is referred to as the "twin sins" of traditional curriculum design.  The book is also packed with K-12 examples and a few templates (additional templates are available in supplementary UbD resources).

Purchase the book, Understanding by Design, by clicking here.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

High School Science Teacher Vlog #1 - Summer Update

Join me as I begin my YouTube teacher vlogging adventure! The purpose of my vlogs will be to share with others the weekly life of a high school science teacher. Whether you're looking to become a teacher, or you're a novice teacher or a veteran teacher, hopefully, you will find something of value from each vlog. Perhaps with enough time and experience, I can turn it into a daily vlog. Subscribe, and Bond with James, so that you don't miss updates!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

High School Science Classroom EoY Tour (2016-2017)

Below you will find pictures and a video showcasing my classroom as the 2016-2017 school year comes to an end (EoY = End-of-Year). The video was shot two weeks before the end of the school year.   

Here is a picture I took two weeks before the start of school (top) and a picture I took two weeks before the end of the school year (bottom). Check out the videos below for more features and an explanation of the setup.  

EoY video

I also included the Beginning-of-Year (BoY) video below if you're curious to see the changes.  Small warning: I shot the BoY via Facebook Live and my reception was poor at the very beginning.  This will explain why the quality is not a clear when you start the video. 

BoY video

While I enjoyed how my room turned out for the '16-'17 school year, I will be switching rooms for the upcoming year as one of our teachers took a position in another district.   

I am going to take time over the summer to move rooms and begins working on the new area (so that I don't have to worry about the Back-to-School rush and hassle).  

If you're interested in more, you can find frequent postings on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Classroom Control - Building Rapport With Secondary Students to Avoid A ...

An out-of-control class is a nightmare!  I've had several throughout my career. So, how can you reclaim your sanity; or at least have more positive days than negative days? 
I created this video in response to a video meme by BoredTeachers and Nicholas Ferroni.  The video made me laugh, however, as I scrolled through the Facebook comments, I had noticed that the clip made other people uneasy.  I also noticed that were several people that had requested advice for how to deal with a situation similar to the meme. I responded in the comments, but then decided to create a response video after recalling my 5th-period class during my first year as a teacher. 

In the video, I share strategies that I've employed over the years to help me combat a disruptive class (as displayed in the Facebook meme).  If you have any questions, then please leave them in the comment section here or the video YouTube channel

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Teacher Interview - 5 Tips to Prepare for the Teacher Interview Process

This is the time of year when my district begins sending out emails concerning teacher summer school positions and school transfer opportunities.   Whether you're a novice or veteran teacher, it is always a great idea to prepare for an upcoming interview.   In this post, I share 5 tips - in video and writing - that you can immediately implement to help you toward your goal of obtaining a teaching position.  I share these teacher interview tips based on my expertise as a teacher and as a former district-level specialist and a high school campus assistant principal.
Want to fast forward? See the time stamps below the video.
Here are the time stamps to fast foward... (non-linked)
0:24  Tip #1: Devote time to learning about the campus
1:50  Tip #2: Speak about your experience in education
2:59  Tip #3: General classroom framework
4:05  Tip #4: Avoid the negativity
4:44  Tip #5: Highlight your strengths

Tip #1: Devote time to learning about the campus
If you've taken the time to apply to a campus, then you should also take some time to research information about it.  Some districts have a district-wide application process where individuals select campuses they're interested in rather than applying to the campus directly.  If you decided to select a bunch of campuses, then be prepared to spend some time researching each campus. 

I was always baffled with candidates that would show up for an interview and then confess to the committee that they knew nothing about the school.  Use Google (it's your friend) to find the campus website or other news about it.  Most campuses have general information such as who the current administrators are, the bell schedule, and news for parents. 

As stated in the video, you do not need to memorize every single detail; however, having some general knowledge about the school shows that you're at least interested in the possibility of becoming a member of the faculty. You also will not be caught off guard concerning certain facts if you're hired and show up on Day 1 of the job (such as the instructional time frame, demographics, school achievement status, etc.). 

Furthermore, researching information about the campus may provide insight to potential questions that the interviewer or committee might ask you. For example, if you notice the campus has a high ELL (English Language Learner) population, you could prepare yourself to receive potential questions about ELLs.  Moreover, that information may at least provide you with information to speak to about at another time during the interview (refer to Tip #5).

A few things to research (not a complete list):
- student demographics 
     --ethnicity vs targeted groups [ELLs, SpEd, GT, At-Risk, etc.]
- academic ratings 
     --state exams, AP scores, etc.
     --compare the data among student demographics (do you notice any trends)
- academic initiatives or programs
     --AVID campus, literacy (reading/writing) programs, interactive 
      notebooks, etc.
- instructional core
     --bell schedule (meet with students every day or every other day, the length 
        of classes, etc.)
     --common planning with PLC (content area team)
     --opportunities to attend professional development 
     --layout of the school or future classroom

Tip #2: Speak about your experience in education
Usually, the interview will begin with the interviewer/committee asking you to talk a little bit about yourself. This is a generic, yet open-ended question.  As I mentioned in the video, I recommend talking about your higher education experience and your teaching background.  You are not required to share personal information with the committee. In fact, this is where I have seen a lot of interviews go completely off the tracks because the candidate was too revealing in his or her personal life (sometimes on the verge of being inappropriate). 

If you stick to your own schooling and teaching experience, then very little can go wrong.  Keep it short, simple, and sweet.  Don't panic if you're looking for your first teaching job - speak to your student teaching experience and your enthusiasm to start your journey as an educator.  Share personal information only if you can connect it to your career as an educator. 

Tip #3: General classroom framework
Develop an idea of your instructional framework, policies and procedures, and classroom climate. Most teachers were taught to develop lesson plans using a specific model, for example, the 5E Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate).  You could reference the 5E sequence, or another model, to talk about what an administrator might observe as s/he enters your classroom for an observation.  Highlight what the students, as well as yourself, are doing throughout a sample lesson (this will also help those that have to present a sample lesson during the interview).

If you're asked to talk about a weakness, then speak to something that many people struggle with.  For example, I sometimes participate in multiple campus-related events and spread myself thin. I have to continually remind myself that I cannot do it all.  However, in the process of sharing a "weakness", I have also spun it around to highlight an effective teacher characteristic - being a collaborative faculty member.  As a former administrator, I appreciated teachers that assisted the admin team or their colleagues in various ways. 

Here are a few sample questions:
  • Describe your teaching philosophy. 
  • How do you handle disruptive students?
  • You notice a student acting weird, possibly under-the-influence [of drugs or alcohol], describe how you would handle the situation.
  • Describe how you would work with a student that is not disruptive but disengaged from the learning in your classroom. 
  • Describe how you would work with a parent or guardian that has complained about your grading practices. 
  • Describe your idea of effective communication with parents and other staff members.
  • How do you maintain confidentiality between students?
  • Describe your thoughts on addressing equity in your classroom or within your department. 
  • What are some ideas that you have that would help close the achievement gap among students at the campus?
As discussed in the video, you can visit the description section in the YouTube video to download the Teacher Interview Checklist for additional questions and support. 

Tip #4: Avoid the negativity
If you had a troubling experience at a former or current campus, then it might be easy to fall into the trap of saying something that might be viewed as negative by the interviewer/committee. Try to remain neutral and as general as possible when replying to questions that might incite a negative response. For example, you might be asked to share a time when you and a colleague, or administrator, were in disagreement with one another.  You can speak in general terms regarding how you would resolve the disagreement. 

Tip #5: Highlight your strengths
Prior to going into any interview, develop a list of qualities and experiences that you believe make you the best candidate for the position. Whether you're given time at the end of the interview to share additional information, or ask questions, make sure to take a moment to highlight your strengths.  

If you did your homework (Tip #1), you might have learned some things about the campus that are aligned to your strengths.  For example, if you have experience working with English Language Learners (ELLs) and are interviewing at a campus with a large ELL population, then highlight that experience and any successful strategies during the interview.  Or if the campus is a 1-to-1 technology campus and you are a technological wiz, then talk about some of the innovative things you might use the technology for.

Don't throw buzzwords out during the interview for the sake of it; especially if you don't truly believe in or even execute the strategies.  For example, if you don't use word walls and have no interest in using word walls, then do not pretend to like them because you think that will get you bonus points during the interview.  Furthermore, if you are offered the position, then there might be an expectation that you follow through with the skills that you used to promote yourself during the interview process.  
Well, that's it! I hope you were able to take away at least 1 thing from this list (blog and/or video).  If you have a question about something you wish I would have spoken about, then make sure to a leave a comment.  

Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by and Bond with James!