September 29, 2006

Great example of bad journalism

Posted in journalism at 7:44 pm by mrsmauck

My local paper ran this as its top story yesterday: “Cheerleader booted for blogging.” Hmmm…sounds like it has the potential to expose some censorship in high school, except this story reads more like gossip on the front page of the paper. The cheerleader posted gossip on her MySpace page about other members of the squad. If a cheerleader were kicked off the squad for gossiping the old-fashioned way about her fellow cheerleaders, would that be news? No, it’s high school politics as usual. I think this was my paper’s effort to get hip with the digital age, as the story followed its lead sentence with the following definitions of MySpace and blogs, both riddled with unhip errors:

MySpace.com is an intranet (an interconnected series of web pages,) where you can post pictures, create and update your profile, leave messages or comments from other members, take silly (or serious) quizzes, and write ‘blogs.’ Blogging is keeping an on-line journal, where everyone can view it.

So, according to dictionary.com, an intranet is a private network, not an Internet site anyone can access. Also, how about defining a blog for what it’s short for: weblog, rather than throwing in a hyphenated “on-line.”

I think I’m going to clip this one for my journalism teacher file of “examples of what not to do.” I’ve collected several articles from this paper.

We’ve all heard the stories in the past year or so of people getting fired from their jobs for blogging about their workplace, bosses, company policy, etc. But a cheerleader getting kicked off for posting this on her MySpace page is not quite the same:

“…When people talk about other people, someone always over-hears them… I’m not the only one who (feels) this way. Example: I know somebody on the cheer team that wrote a lot of (expletive) up (expletive) In (Girl’s name)’s death book… like ha ha, you had it coming to you.. anyway she (told) me that I need to quit being a (expletive).”

Another girl copied this entry, added names, and distributed it to people at school. The blogging cheerleader, as she will forever be branded, was then unceremoniously kicked off the team. Unfair? Sounds like it. But local newspaper story? I don’t think so. Sounds like somebody’s aunt worked at the paper and decided to go public through her for revenge.

If you can see the news value in this piece, please point it out to me. Otherwise, this reporter is getting hung out to dry in my future high school journalism class.

September 21, 2006

My passion shifts…

Posted in mommy at 9:06 pm by mrsmauck

Well, my Teacher Competency Review Panel interview went well. It was just two extremely nice women who were very friendly and laid-back about the whole process, so I felt very comfortable and at ease. I should have my teaching certificate in the next couple weeks!

It’s been very difficult for me to post on this blog lately, because all the thought I used to devote to teaching has been almost completely replaced with thoughts of being a mommy. That’s right dear readers, I’m pregnant! I’d been planning on applying for jobs that begin mid-year for the past couple months, but now I’m having second thoughts. I’ll be in my third trimester for most of next semester, and I’ve heard how incredibly tiring teaching is, especially during your first year. I’ll probably go ahead and apply, though. The bottom line is, I have to work somewhere, and although the job I have now is very laid-back, has me sitting down most of the day, and is very flexible about taking breaks when needed for dr. appointments, sick days, etc., it’s not a good job for me. Yikes though, now that I listed all those things, I see how it might be a wiser choice.

Well…I’ll be praying about it. What do you guys think?

September 18, 2006

Alt Cert Interview tomorrow

Posted in teacher certification at 3:34 pm by mrsmauck

Hey all, sorry about the lag in posting. I go tomorrow for my Teacher Competency Review Panel interview. It’s one of the hoops you have to jump through to be alternatively certified in Oklahoma. I’ve heard it lasts all of 15 minutes and you’re asked two questions: “Why is [your subject] important?” and another one, perhaps “What do you think of young people today?”

So here are my answers to those questions:

Why is journalism important? (I want to teach English, but my initial certification is in journalism, because that’s what my undergrad degree is in, and that’s where I have work experience.)

Part of my teaching philosophy is that the goal of education is to mold young people into responsible citizens, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners. Journalism accomplishes all three of those objectives, in my opinion. Students learn to care about what goes on in their communities as they report on them. Writing stories about news that matters to them forces them to ask important questions about why things happen the way they do, and what students can do to make their voices heard in decision-making processes. That’s the critical thinking part. Journalists become lifelong learners in that their curiosity is whetted and their eye for good stories is sharpened. Even though I’m not a full-time journalist, I fully understand and appreciate that my journalism experience as an undergraduate has made me a news reader, a curious, inquiring person who loves finding good stories, and a person who makes judgment calls and forms opinions on what’s happening in the news, who values and takes advantage of free speech, and who recognizes censorship. I hope that a secondary-level journalism class could accomplish the same things in my students, whether they go on to be professional journalists or not.

What do you think about young people today?

I believe young people today are much like young people from all generations: they’re passionate about the things they care about, ambivalent toward things that don’t seem to have a connection to their lives, they’re caught up in “the game of school,” in which grades are the goal, not learning, and they’re nervous and excited about their futures, because most of them don’t know what the future holds for them. Young people today are different, however, in the fact that their attention spans have been shortened by video games, reading on the computer rather than in paper form, music videos, and today’s quick-shot films. It will be my job to see that what they learn in my class is directly applicable to their lives and their futures. I want to show them that they’re all experts in something, and build on that expertise in pop culture, fashion, friendship, dating, sports, or whatever to show them that being an effective communicator will help them live better lives.

What do you think? Anything I left out? This was totally stream-of-consciousness; who knows what will come out of my mouth when they ask the questions.

September 2, 2006

Defining my "Stance"

Posted in philosophy at 10:22 pm by mrsmauck

So I’m still reading and loving The Passionate Teacher, and am just itching to define my “stance.” It’s my attitude toward and expectations for my students and their performance. So here are the questions Fried recommend we ask ourselves in order to consciously define our stance:

  1. What are the five most important beliefs or values in my life?

I am a Christian, so this defines and/or shapes all my beliefs and values. The Gospel message affects my life in so many ways. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for my sins and the sins of the world, and then raised from the dead to be with God in heaven so that I might have hope of eternal life. This means that 1) every soul is precious, because Jesus died for everyone, all my future students, not just the smart, pretty, friendly, creative ones. Christ sought to bring His life-saving message to everyone. He ate with the tax-collectors and talked with the sinners; He touched the untouchables. 2) Sacrifice and service are the ways to show love and build trust. Christ shocked his disciples by washing their feet, and they wouldn’t believe He would give His own life for them. Teaching is more of a sacrifice than the kids even know sometimes, but I can certainly not hold myself on a pedestal, but rather try to serve their learning needs. 3) Christ was always an example of his teachings. He didn’t just preach love and compassion and service; he did these things everyday. Actions speak so much louder than words, and students need to see me doing all these things I want them to do: read, write, think critically, be creative, etc.

Okay, three is all I’ve got. Being a Christian is not too complicated, but that certainly doesn’ t make it easy.

2. What are five core beliefs I hold about children and adolescents?

Okay, these are probably going to sound hackneyed, but here goes: 1) Every student is worthy of respect and dignity. 2) Every student is capable of learning, and even enjoying learning. 3) Every student excels at something. 4) Children and adolescents are growing and changing very quickly, and need patience, support, and understanding. 5) Children and adolescents need five things to be able to learn: power, belonging, survival, freedom, and fun (from The English Teacher’s Survival Guide)

3. If I were the boss of the whole school, what words would I like to greet everyone who entered the building and every student who walks into a classroom?

“Learning is living and living is learning. Let’s live and learn together!”

4. What is it about the subject I teach that connects with my core values and beliefs? Why have I chosen to devote my professional life to this field?

I touched on how education in general is connected to my core values and beliefs above. As far as English, I think reading, writing, speaking, and listening are the skills that pave the way to equality and, paradoxically, individuality. These skills help you learn about the world and yourself, and express how you fit into the world. I feel as though I’m teaching people how to live through language and literature, making disciples if you will. I think that also answers the second part of the question, as well: I believe you live a better, fuller life when you can and do read, write, speak, and listen effectively, critically, and creatively.

5. What might my students produce or demonstrate that would prove to me that they had really benefited from my role as teacher?

Yikes, this is a tough one. Time to get concrete! If they could demonstrate engagement in and enjoyment of a novel in literature circles, I would be thrilled and gratified. I know that teaching presentations of group or individual projects could really prove they had interacted with the content and would teach their classmates. Portfolios that show individual growth and that the student found a form of writing or a work (novel, poem, article, art, etc.) that inspired and engaged them. I suppose I would value good test scores on a difficult work we’d studied. These would show the material was applicable enough to them and their learning that they committed important themes and ideas to memory. I think projects that require inquiry and exploration are much more valuable than tests, but I still see value in quizzing or testing over themes, characters, plot, etc. My thinking is they need to be punished or rewarded for doing the reading.

Well, I feel as though my stance is somewhat defined. Thoughts? I welcome critique, your ideas on your stance, real-world perspective, etc.