Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Ryan Hur's Posts (2017)

The Benefits of Failure

              The idea that "Failures leads to success" is a common cliche that is sometimes seems too mainstream to believe, especially in a school, where failure seems common, but doesn't have a happy ending. It is important to stress to your students that this theory is true. Failure can be very discouraging in school, which is why it is so apparently vital to teach students that one failure does not lead to a long road of them.
               Failure is so seemingly common in school, and it happens so easily. As a teacher, is it important to let your students know that an error is not the end of the world. Some teachers hate retakes because they feel as if the students should have prepared for it the first time. The point is understandable, yet a student who couldn't be bothered to study the first time, won't work for a second chance. The importance of retakes pertains to the students who made a mistake or an error. This type of student strives for success but it is denied to them due to their one failure. It is essentially hypocritical to force the ideal that failure leads to success and not offer redemption for a failure.
          The thought that "Failure leads to success" is a true idea, but only if it is actually demonstrated in someones life. This can be a motivating factor in a student's experience, if it is taught and stressed the right way. A students motivation will visibly increase if they know that they can always try their hardest, and eventually it will pay off.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Debate and Discussion in the Classroom

                We already know passion and connection to real life in class is the best way for students to learn. But what is a beneficial way to get students fired up about topic they enjoy, and teach them more about the topic? A classroom discussion or a debate is the best way to inform students about relevant topics, keep the class engaged, teach them valuable communication skills, and keep them passionate.
            First thing's first, pick a topic. Take a class vote to see what the class is interested in, or analyze a song or poem and discuss the topic that reveals itself from the piece. Whatever you do make sure it is not simple; make it relevant to their lives. Get the students passionate about the topic you discuss, that is the only way they will learn from the discussion. Keep students engaged by opposing their opinions to stimulate their minds. Make sure the entire class is engaged, you want everyone's opinions, sometimes the quietest kids have the most to say. Help them practice their communication skills (proper grammar, eye contact, confidence, etc.). Finally, make sure that the students understand their opposites. They can become well informed people, who can make their own decisions based on facts.
           This is one of the absolute best ways to educate students about things relevant to their lives. If the discussion and debate strategy is practiced regularly in the classroom, a spark of new found passion will be seen in the students. I truly believe it will be beneficial to the students and the teachers, and continue to knock down the predetermined barrier between them, which is one of the most important things in the classroom. Also, certain topics discussed can expand your knowledge as a teacher, about particular students. A student's opinion in discussions that can spark a passion in them, can reveal things about them priorly unknown to you. There are a tremendous amount of benefits you will see instantly these steps are followed to make your class more engaging for everyone.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A True Story

              Recently, we had our first snow days of the year (surprising, considering we had a 3 foot blizzard last year), only two days, and on the second day, Mr. A invited us over to watch the movie that didn't fit in our schedule at our big meeting a couple weeks earlier. I was slightly frustrated, as I had already made plans for my unexpected day off, but I was also intrigued. Mr. A had told me I would tremendously enjoy this movie since it speaks to my ideals. So I walked to his house in the freezing cold, every body part that was exposed, feeling like it was going to freeze. When I arrived, we immediately started what would come to be my favorite movie, and teach me a number of elements about the classroom that I had never seen before.
              Erin Gruwell was a wide eyed first year teacher who had no idea what she was in for when she decided to teach at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA. She taught at a school which had recently undergone and integration program to make the school more diverse. The teachers in the school had objections to the program, thinking that it was bringing down their school which was recently prestigious. She disagreed with their objections and was scrutinized for it. But her goal was not to impress her colleagues, it was to educate her students and improve their lives. Her entire approach to teaching changed when she discovered a racist drawing of one of her students. She compared the drawing to racist images drawn by the nazis in holocaust times. One student spoke up after her rant about the drawing, and asked what the holocaust was. She was puzzled, and then asked the class how many of them knew what the holocaust was. Only one student raised their hand. She decided to teach her class about these tragic events, to inform them of the importance of tolerance, since it applied to their lives directly, due to all of the racial tension in their environment. She grew closer to her students as the days went on, and she formed a real bond with them. They all became one family, despite any racial differences. Erin Gruwell had a bigger impact on all of their lives than anyone they had ever met. All 150 freedom writers, despite it being said they would drop out before junior year, graduated high school.
                 I was shocked and inspired by this movie to an extent that I didn't know to be possible. So much so, that I decided to do some more extensive research into the movie and its background. After ordering the book, I was too excited about all of it to just sit around and wait for the book to be delivered, so I went and just started trolling the internet for what others had to say about the movie. I went on Rotten Tomatoes, and saw that it had some harsh critic reviews. One review that stuck out in my head, was a critic stating that the movie was too cliché, and "fact-based or not", just seemed too Hollywood to be true. This came as a blow to my confidence about the impact the movie could have. I wondered if I had been unaware of how much the movie had been over-dramatized. A few days later, when I received my copy of the book in the mail, I began to submerge myself into the book to discover how much of the movie was actually truth. To my delight, it was all a true story.
                Freedom Writers is yet another prime example of the impact a teacher can make on a students life. Teachers around the country need to know that they can shape their students path, even if it already seems predetermined. I can't stress the importance of movies like this and what they teach us. Teachers can apply the same skills that Erin Gruwell applied in her classroom. She demonstrates the importance of a relationship with her students, some going as far as calling the classroom a home when they felt like there was no other home. The application of a students real life in the classroom is one of the best ways to teach. The students understand more and feel a connection to the material they learn. Freedom Writers can be inspirational to teachers everywhere. Even if it seems like another cliché movie, it is based on a true story.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Effect A Principal Can Have

The Effect a Principal Can Have

                         I was watching the news with my parents in our family room, as I would on any regular weeknight, and all of the stories were the same old, dark stories about the atrocities of the world we all live in. But something that I commend NBC Nightly News on, is the way they end their regular program; with a heart-warming news piece. This particular night, the story especially caught my attention. Lester Holt introduced the story as he always does, but this time he lead with a message about how much a principal in Raleigh, NC, has been changing students lives.
                         Elizabeth MacWilliams has made an effort to connect to her students more than most principals do. The care and passion she puts into her job is apparent in her school. The particular student they loomed in on the news piece, Alana Jackson, has achieved honor roll in her school and enjoys cheer and lacrosse. She was formerly a struggling student who needed a connection. Once the principal became involved in her life, her success grew. Her mother and her attribute her success to the principal and the connection she has made with them. It is just another example of how far a connection in the school environment can go to increase the productivity and happiness in a student.
                        I encourage all principals or vice principals to do something similar to Elizabeth MacWilliams. While it is an extreme challenge, it can provide incredible benefits for the students. Making the stretch for your students makes them feel valued, appreciated, and makes students feel like they have a home in school if it may be observed that the student doesn't have a great home life. The administrators can use this acquired knowledge to make the school a comfortable environment for each student.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Misconception About Administrators

The Misconception About Administrators
By: Ryan Hur
The word administration often has a negative connotation in a typical school. Administrators can sometimes receive a bad reputation due to their forced disciplinarian persona. While it is true that they have to be disciplinarians in order to keep the school a safe environment, they also have a countless amount of crucial tasks that make the school a better place. In my recent experience shadowing an assistant principal, I learned several aspects of their job that is not commonly known by students.
            I had no idea the immense amount of unnecessary disrespect a vice principal can receive just in lunch duty. We stood at the far side of the cafeteria, scanning the crowd, looking for any sign of disruption. There was none but nevertheless, we started walking through the aisles. He smiled at the students, saying hello, often starting friendly, yet for some reason tense, conversations. The students would sometimes give him dirty looks, respond sarcastically, or not engage in conversation at all, but it didn’t faze him. He continued to engage the students that were friendly and had nice, productive conversations with them. There was one example however, in which a student was completely out of line and treated him with incredible disrespect and insubordination. This student was brazen enough to force himself into an argument with the assistant principal, attempting to dictate what the assistant principal should do for him. He had a twisted view on the respect that should be shown to someone of his authority. It shocked me that the assistant principal could be shown this disrespect in such a short period of time. After the altercation had ended, the assistant principal turned to me with a smile on his face and said, “It can be hard sometimes.”
            Another major part of the day was hallway duty. We would go to a crowded part of the hallways between classes and make sure everyone was getting to class and not misbehaving. We weren’t intrusive; students were allowed to stand in groups and socialize, so long as they weren’t blocking the flow of traffic. To ensure that he would ask them to step to the side of the hall and they would sometimes ignore him or begrudgingly walk to the side of the hallway, while giving him a dirty look. The unnecessary disrespect triggered by such a mundane task is unfathomable.
            A crucial part of a thriving school is a friendly relationship between the students and the administrators. Students need to understand administrators are there to make the school better, not just to discipline them. Once the barrier is broken, administrators and students can work together to make the school a productive place. In order to do this, an administrators need to make themselves as approachable as possible. Announce that they are open for conversation and support for the students. Make themselves a welcoming figure to the majority of the school.

            If these steps are taken the school will thrive off the relationships between the upper levels and the students. Administrators will get student input on how they want the school to function and the perfect middle ground can be met to make the most productive school environment possible. I learned a lot about how an administrator is treated on a daily basis and how they can handle the lack of understanding that they are making the school a truly better place. On top of all of the things I learned, I made a friend in a place I thought I never could.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Building Real Rapport

 Building Real Rapport
by Ryan Hur and Kellen Pluntke

            One of the key components in a successful classroom is having a positive teacher-student relationship.  Having a positive relationship with your students will motivate them to do the best work they can, and keep all your students engaged throughout the school year. A student will do great work for a teacher that inspires them to work harder.  A teacher can affect how a student interacts and behaves in class just by having good rapport with them.  It is so important for kids’ mental health and future success that they know that people care about them. Since students spend almost more time in school than they do with their families, the care that teachers show is essential in their lives.  Teachers can never know what is going on in a student’s life until they truly get to know them.  Students’ personal lives can greatly affect their in-class performance, to the point where the students’ full potential could not even be realized.

            All this responsibly is not just on the teachers.  Students need to know that they can go to their teachers to talk about things, not just school issues. I (Kellen) have had my life changed by some of my teachers, because I finally decided to open up to all of them, and just let them know about what’s going on in my life.  I have personally struggled with a mental health issue – namely, anxiety - and this year school started to get very hard for me. Once I went in to every one of my teachers, I got nothing but support.  All of them talked to me about how they understood what I was going through and they said they would be more than happy to just talk to me about everything.  Ever since I decided to do that, school has improved so much in every way possible.  I started participating more in class, getting my work done, and my grades came back up to almost all A’s and B’s.  Teachers started making some small accommodations for me, just to make me a little more comfortable. For example, music is a big part of my life, and it is something that always calmed me down when I had anxiety issues.  I explained this to my teachers and they were completely open to letting me use music to aid my learning in class.  My classes did not change otherwise, and the workload wasn’t any easier, but since I knew that I had all my teachers on my side, I could do it.  I hope that every student going through personal issues in their life has the opportunity to open up to their teachers, but it is on them to do that.  Teachers however, still need to have an approachable “vibe” if you will.  I would not have been able to go to my teachers like that if I didn’t feel like they were going to take what I was saying positively.  The connections that I made with those teachers has given me my own support system, and it changed not just my school life, but my life all together.

            One thing that teachers can do to help the students feel more comfortable in their classes, is to incorporate modern technology into lessons. When doing this, technology should not take over the lesson, but simply add to it.  But integration of technology just for the point of bringing it into the classroom is a waste, it needs to complement the lessons that are already made, never the center of it.  Kids use social media all the time, and it can be used positively to help them and the world around them if done correctly.  For example, all the #bowtieboys try to keep our twitter accounts running with good tweets and research that support the topics we represent.  This same concept can be used in the classroom. “Educators need to recognize that these sites can be a place where teens learn social skills and practice improving interpersonal relationships” (Teaching with the Tools Kids Really Use, 2010).  Social media is a great way for students to practice their 21st century skills, which are arguably some of the most important skills students can learn in school.  This integration of something that kids are comfortable with into the classroom will make kids feel more connected and engaged.

            A fantastic way to do this is to have students tweet things that they have learned from lessons, books, and discussions in class.  That way if all the students are not reading the same book, or having the same discussion, they can still see the main points and ideas brought on by those sources.  For example, if half the class is reading To Kill a Mockingbird, while the other half is reading A Tale of Two Cities, both groups can tweet about the main ideas and lessons they have learned from their book, and read about the lessons from the other groups book.  This will promote the students’ productive use of technology, while improving their online presence.  When both groups are finished with their books, a full-on twitter chat can be run by the teacher about what they have gathered from their book, and all students can say what they feel on the subject, and how it relates to issues in the world today.  The end twitter chat would act like a Socratic seminar, but is in text so it is easier for assessment. This would make social media “a place for groups of students to collaborate as they work on a group project” (Teaching with the Tools Kids Really Use, 2010).    This idea, if done correctly, would teach students how to use social media effectively, incorporate technology in an effective way without taking away from the meaning of the lesson, and it has relevance to real world issues today.

Also, the addition of technology will make the content seem more relevant to students, which is a huge component to how engaged the students are in that lesson.  Everyone wants to learn, and when a student can see that what they are learning in class can help them in the real world, they will want to learn even more.  This simple method of integrating technology can help teachers maintain that positive “vibe” I mentioned earlier, which will make students feel more connected to their teachers.  This connection can make the student feel much closer to their teacher, thus making them more open to their teachers about personal issues. 
            I (Ryan) have been labeled a slacker by the vast majority of the teachers I’ve had in the past. They see me on the surface and disregard me as an unintelligent floater, who will never respect their class. These thoughts about me and students like me can play a major role in the way we perform in school. While the reason may very well be a lack of motivation or a lack of interest, lots of students have internal issues that are not easy to share, and may be prohibiting their success in school. I have lived with severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder my entire life. I have learned coping skills over the years yet, it can still happen and make it hard to pay attention and be present in class. If a teacher could act as a sponge to soak up everything I might need to get off my chest about something that could be causing an anxiety attack that can be the biggest factor in my performance in school. I am not a straight A student. I haven’t been all of my high school career. As teachers fail to make personal connections with me, I fail to see the point and meaning in the work I am assigned, and my grades suffer. I go home and I am berated by my parents. “We know you are smarter than this” they would say after seeing my pitiful grades. I go back to school and am greeted with a frown as I fail to turn in my homework yet again. Teachers see these things on the surface and turn me away as lazy and unmotivated, yet the small number of teachers I have made a connection with, I have worked unfathomably harder for them and shown them who Ryan Hur truly is.

            While I was reading The Greatest Catch, by Penny Kittle, she inspired me to think that teachers can make a deep and true connection with their students. Penny astoundingly proves that a connection with a student is fathomable, all it takes is a first step on the teacher’s side. An unspoken wall is naturally built between the teachers and the students as soon as they step foot in the classroom, it is up to the teacher to destroy that barrier. One of my favorite of the many heart wrenching stories she tells is about Russel. A boy who hasn’t had a father in the picture, and his mother works too much to have an impact in his life. This is the perfect example of a student who could benefit extraordinarily from a productive relationship with a teacher. Russel couldn’t read, therefore, the system failed him. Kittle pushed Russel to do the best he could, and it seemed as if he did, but due to the way standardized tests operate, the system didn’t see it that way. Nevertheless, the connection that he made with Kittle had an impact on his life. All a teacher needs to do is make a real reach into the student’s life. Ask them simple questions, and make them feel wanted, because maybe they don’t feel that way outside of a relationship you build with them.

            As students who both suffer from mental health issues, we know how important it is to have a positive connection with your teachers.  It is utterly important that students change their perception on teachers, from an inattentive figure that’s only purpose is to teach to the test, to a person who really can make a difference in their life.  When this connection is made, students will feel infinitely more pleased with their school experience, and be far more productive.  While using technology to ease this process along, students will start to feel more comfortable, and learn some great skills along the way. All it takes is a teacher who shows that they genuinely care about the work they do.  Students perform stupendously for teachers that they connect to, and are comfortable with. The relationship between a student and teacher effects a student’s quality of work, happiness in school, and makes school seem less stressful and much more manageable.

Works Cited
Brooks-Young, Susan. Teaching with the Tools Kids Really Use: Learning with Web and Mobile Technologies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2010. Print. 

Kittle, Penny. The Greatest Catch: A Life in Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005. Print.

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