Lifelong Learning

Family

I tend to fall into the same trap over and over.  I play to my strengths.  A common trope right now in the leadership world is making sure that we operate from our strengths instead of work on our weaknesses, and I can understand why.  Why would I work harder on things that I could delegate to those who are gifted in that area?  I decided about two weeks ago that I was going to take on a new learning opportunity that I have no background in.

I am a history teacher by trade, hopefully you already know this.  My wheelhouse is compare/contrast, primary sources, reading, and writing.  In general, I like to tell stories about the past.  Very little of my day-to-day brain power is delegated to the math or science part of my brain.  While I do enjoy learning things that I am naturally inclined to, I started thinking about times in my life when I really enjoyed learning new things.  The nerd part of me began longing for the merit badge system of the Boy Scouts (now the Scouts).

There are programs out there for adults that are merit badge based, but I cannot afford their prices.  So I thought about an area that does not cost too much to get into that flexes the math and science area of my brain.  It would be a bonus if it provided a skill that I could use in the future (potentially).  So I settled on Amateur Radio, better known as “Ham Radio”.

My first step towards getting on the air was passing the licence exam.  The initial licence costs under $20 and a book or app to study.  For this exam I bought the book and the app, but I found the app much easier to study in small amounts of time.  I had a little under a week before the local ham radio club offered the test, so I studied my tail off during that time.  I showed up on test day and passed the test.  I am now waiting on the FCC to issue me a licence.

In the mean time (since it can take a couple of weeks), I ordered my first radio.  I opted for the handheld variety to start out with.  I also signed up for the local ham radio club which conveniently is right around the corner from my house.  I am going to keep updating my progress and how much I’ve learned.  Who knows, maybe this will start the trend of me having all kinds of other learning adventures.

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Teacher Culture

Education

I am now in month two of my third school of my teaching career.  The thing that I am noticing the most when it comes to changing schools is that there is a lot of culture at school.  There are teacher cultures, student cultures, administration cultures, parent cultures, etc.  It boggles my mind how many cultural shifts I have had to deal with in this early part of the school year.

During teacher inservice days, I was almost overcome with all the teacher cultural differences in my new school.  Many of the faculty at my new school had been there for a decade or more and new the culture inside and out.  They new the families that were coming, the types of kids by neighborhood, and could predict how certain students would interact before the school year started.  In a way, I was envious of them and I wished I could rush the acculturation I am now beginning to experience.  As I have reflected on this phenomenon, I have realized that I do not need to completely adopt the new culture of the school, but use my own culture to add a new flavor to the already established culture of my school.  I do not need to be a clone of the person before me or my teaching partner on the other team.  I was hired to be me.

The culture that is normally talked about in teacher circles is the student culture.  I know a lot of teachers pining to work at any of a number of certain schools because the kids act a certain way.  What I have found is that the issues that are found with middle school kids transcend what school they go to.  Meaning that the problems that we find with middle school kids are the same no matter what school they go to.  The difference is how they are manifested and how the students are dealing with it.  Understanding the school’s response to these issues is fascinating to me.

As I have taught my sixth graders (when I have taught sixth grade), is that culture is something that is difficult to explain until you are outside of it.  Once I leave the great state of Texas it is plain to see I am in a completely different culture.  Same with changing school.  I never knew how plugged into the culture of my last school I was until I left.