We find evidence that the ranks of reformers are growing and their pleas for technology integration, project learning, integrated curriculum, collaborative learning, new methods of assessment are having more impact. The trenches are full of folks whose courage, imagination and inexhaustible spirit are bringing enlightenment to education, sometimes one school or classroom at a time.
I can say for certain that I wouldn't still be in the field of education if not for the amazing teachers who've inspired me along the way. So, without further ado, my daring dozen:
1) Samantha Glickman - I was so fortunate to have worked with Sam early in my teaching career. She took me under her wing and taught me everything I know about classroom management. She puts every bit of her heart and soul into teaching. She looks at every challenge as an opportunity to try something new. I also credit Sam for getting me into teaching with technology. Back in the 90's, before tech in schools was the 'big thing,' Sam scraped together 4 mismatched computers and a old t.v. with an s-video adaptor to make a technology center in the classroom. If it will benefit her students, Sam will find a way to make it happen. Sam now teaches 4th grade at Noble School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and her class is pen pals with the 2nd grade class at my school. Yes, good old fashioned pen pals writing letters with the pen and paper and sending by snailmail. And they love it. Not everything has to be high-tech to motivate.
2) Susan Killebrew -I worked with Susan around the same time I started working with Sam. The three of us worked in an unbelievably challenging school with probably one of the worst, most ineffective principals of all time. There is no way I would have survived and remained in teaching without them to teach me, share with me, lead by example. Creative, resourceful, brilliant, and true to her ideals, Susan is the type of person who inspires you to want to be a better person. Currently Susan teaches Spanish at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland, CA.
3) Loret Peterson - Another amazing teacher with whom I have been fortunate to work. Loret taught a 4th/5th grade class in San Francisco and may very well still be teaching there. We worked together for the California Reading and Literature Project. Loret is another educator who was integrating technology long before it was common. As part of a project on immigration, Loret wrote a grant to buy several, digital cameras for her classroom. She sent the cameras home with students who interviewed family members. She then used the grant money to pay a consultant to come in and help the students use photoshop to create beautiful, artistic posters combining the photos they took and their written interviews. Done with one computer and a desire to do something different. Just one example of why Loret is in my dozen.
4) Kathleen Ferenz - One of the teachers in my masters program, Kathleen Ferenz was one of the only teachers I had who actually modeled the type of teaching she advocated. Her class was one of the best classes I took. I learned a lot, and it definitely impacted the way I teach today.
5) Kim Glasgal - Not an educator by trade, but making a difference nonetheless. Kim is my friend and my assistant at work. When I first took the job as a tech coordinator last year, I was completely and totally overwhelmed. To write about that would be a post (or several) in itself. Knowing that Kim was a tech-savvy type I asked her if she might be willing to come in and help me out a bit. (She is also a parent at the school.) She agreed. I had one project in mind that I just didn't have the time to deal with. I thought she could help get it going. She spent uncountable hours as an unpaid volunteer and took over many headaches, I mean projects, for me. She was so awesome that the school hired her as my assistant. This year she helps a lot with the students and teacher training as well, and she is wonderful.
6) Deb Kuhr- Deb is the middle school English teacher at my school. I love the fact that she loves to learn and truly gets excited about teaching. On my very first day at the school she came up to me and said, "Ok, here is what I'm teaching this year. I'd love to integrate technology. What ideas do you have?" If only every teacher I worked with had her openness to trying new things, not only in the classroom, but for herself as well. When we had Kaleidoscope Day this year, a day fully devoted to the arts, all of the classes came through the computer lab to use pixie or image blender to create a self portrait. The teachers were required (for the one and only time all year) to come with their classes. Most of the teachers just sat and did other things while the students were working on the project, but not Deb. She wanted to do the same project that the students were doing so she, too, could learn to use the software.
It's late, and I'm tired, but I like to publish what I write. So, I'm going to stop at a half dozen, and I will finish with the next half dozen real soon. This was a great exercise, really makes you feel good to focus on the good stuff.
Thanks, Lucy, for the suggestion.