Compass or Map

compassThe goal of teaching is to enable and empower students to navigate this world with a compass, but I’ve been teaching them with maps. Here’s what I mean: As a teacher, I work very hard show my students the steps it takes to accomplish a task. The problem is that if they follow those steps they get the task done.

What? That doesn’t sound like a problem.

Well, I guess it’s not a problem if your goal is the simple task, however a teacher’s goal is larger. I want my students to understand the content well enough that they can interact and navigate around completely on their own. By following the steps (my map), my students haven’t discovered the landscape around the task. Many haven’t even looked up from the map to notice the landscape. They haven’t made mistakes which would teach them how to navigate towards their goal. A compass is a much better instrument for students. It forces them to learn the landscape and to get a real grasp of the content. When they get off course, they will need to find their way back and will discover that missing a few steps is not failure. They might even discover a better way to get somewhere. A compass allows a student more freedom and room for personal expression than a map – as long as they are within the boundaries they can go anywhere they’d like. If students had this kind of freedom, they might be a bit more motivated. Compass work forces deeper thought and requires higher order thinking skills.

Let me be clear. To create a “compass” lesson is much more difficult for the teacher. It requires more flexibility and will most likely bring some chaos. The “compass” teacher/student relationship probably looks more like an apprenticeship. There needs to be more one on one time. More exploration time. There should probably be more mistakes and disasters as well. As a matter of fact, I’d say that if there aren’t many mistakes, then students aren’t learning. As hard is these ideas might be, I believe our students are worth the efforts.  

Here’s my biggest question: In this type of classroom, students must have some sort of self motivation. A teacher who works with students individually like this can’t possibly watch everyone else simultaneously. How can a teacher like this keep everyone on task? How can a teacher motivate those students who simply don’t care? Of course the answer is to give them something they care about, but the truth is that there is no course/content/class that can motivate everyone. Ideas? Thoughts? Please leave some comments, I’d really like to know your thoughts.

Learning Repentance

 

Miranda and I have been working on teaching our children about repentance quite a bit lately. We never really use that word, but we’re trying to lay a foundation which will make it easy to understand as they grow older. Our practice is to teach them a few things to say when they have hurt someone:

1) I’m sorry. (Stop behavior)
2) I won’t do it again. (Turn around behaviorally)
3) Will you forgive me? (Restore relationship)

After listening to a sermon from Rob Morris (Love146) I’m considering adding another element. He reminded me of the Biblical accounts where the repentant sinner’s first action was to “right” the wrong that he caused and and to even go beyond “right” to make it “better.”

Remember Zacchaeus, the tax collector who gave back four times everything he had taken? (Lk 19:1-10)

Or when the rich young ruler went away grieved because he could not bring himself to help the poor. (Mk 10:17-22)

In Luke 3:10-14, John the Baptist is preaching a baptism of repentance and when asked “What shall we do?” He tells them to give to the poor and to treat others fairly.

Evidently, our repentance should impact the poor and oppressed as well.

All this is to say, I need to find some ways to help my kids see that repentance is more than my three step lesson. It should have legs on it and actions tied to it. Repentance should impact everyone around us.

Maybe we should add the question: “How can I make it better?” (Restore/Improve situation)

Lord, guide us to model repentance for our children. Lead us to the strategies that will help us to encounter You – to be confronted by sin, and to recognize that our behaviors hinder our relationship with You. Forgive us. Restore us unto You. Change us. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to choose new behaviors and walk different roads and lead us to improve the situations that we have caused in our sin. AMEN.

Teaching Job

I have been working as a 6th grade Social Studies teacher for the last semester and will be “let go” this May due to the financial struggles of Brazosport ISD and the status of my contract. The decision does not reflect my ability to teach or work with my co-teachers/administration. My principal, Robin Pelton has written a recommendation letter which you can read here: Principal’s Recommendation

I’m NOT just looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one that I’m excited to do each day – one where I can truly make a difference in the world and impact/influence people. My teaching experience this semester has reaffirmed my desire to teach and I plan to continue pursuing this career in spite of the current situation in our district.

Previously, I worked as a full-time youth minister for 18 years. I did not have an educational background in the school system, however, I believe that my experience teaching students within the church has been a real asset. I entered the school system this year, with much more real life teaching experience than other first year teachers and I have a real love for students.

My academic background includes two years of engineering at Texas A&M, two years of music education at Texas Wesleyan, and two years at the College of Biblical Studies where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership. I believe that I am a great teacher and would love the opportunity to work with students in your school.

I have completed the “act houston” Winter 2010 Institute for alternative certification and passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam with a score of 282 out of 300. This makes me “highly qualified.” I have received a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas and am currently working through the remainder of my internship requirements.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies and have written many articles describing my philosophies/ideas about leadership. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:

Leadership:

Leadership Compass & Teaching
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Bottom Leaders
Changing a Culture
Wizard of Oz Leadership

During this time in our lives, God has granted us peace. I’m not sure how to explain it, (Jesus is the “Peace that passes understanding.” Philippians 4:7) but we are resting in the fact that He has never let us down and that as His children, He loves us. We don’t know how we’re going to survive and keep our house from one month to the next, but we feel that He is leading us down this road toward a teaching position. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. We need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)


Teacher’s Prayer:

I want to teach my students how to live this life on earth.
To face it’s struggles & it’s strife & to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong,
And gather all the beauty of a flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won & I have filled my place. .
And so I ask your guidance, God, that I may do my part.
For character and confidence and happiness of heart.
– James J. Metcalf

Teaching = Walking on the Moon

I have been walking on the moon for the past 2 weeks. I lifted off from the comfortable ground of the church world and entered a new territory in the public school system. Oh yes, others have gone before me, but this is uncharted territory for me. I am treading new grounds, making tracks, exploring, and hopefully making a positive impact on the lifeforms I encounter. You may laugh, but yes, they are aliens. They dress differently, speak a different language, and look at me like I’m the strange one. It’s truly an honor to have been chosen to lead such an important mission – to develop new ways of thinking and explore uncharted territories.

I am a Rasco Rocket!

OK – enough with the allegory. I know some of you really want to know how my first few weeks of teaching have gone. Well. . . . I think it’s gone well. I’m still coming home with a smile on my face. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I feel like I’m moving forward and learning new things every day. My students are great! They get a little out of hand sometimes, but I like them. I feel like I’m getting to know both the other teachers and my students. I’m well aware that I’m still in a “honeymoon” stage, but I feel like this is going to be a good fit for me.

Prayer: Lord, guide me. Give me patience with my students and give me experiences which will sharpen my skills and help me to become a great school teacher. Grant me favor with my students and with my team as well as the administration and other coworkers. Go before me and lead me. I truly want to honor You with this new role. I want to be a positive influence for all my students and will need Your help to do so. As I learn all these new skills, give me peace. When it seems overwhelming, intervene and help me to breathe again, to rest in You. AMEN.

Orange Name Tags

A Small Sampling of my Collection

No more orange nametags!!! I got a job!!! I’ll be working as a 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Grady Rasco Middle School beginning Jan 3rd, 2011! I’m excited about this opportunity for quite a few reasons but at least one of them is that I won’t ever have to wear the orange “substitute” name tags again. I got an official badge today from Brazosport ISD.

I have been unemployed and ineligible for “unemployment benefits” (as are all church employees) for 11 months. God has been our provider. We have been able to keep our house without skipping any payments and we haven’t incurred any credit card debt. God has surprised us many times throughout the year with His provision. (Check out this one: Our Wonderful Life) He has used family, friends, and even strangers to help us through this time and we are incredible grateful. We have also learned new habits – non-spending habits and have taken another look at our priorities. God has been good to us during this time and He has used it to draw us closer to Him, closer to each other, and to refine us as He has walked through this fire with us.

I’m excited about my new job. I’m excited to be able to spend my work days with students and to have the opportunity to influence and impact them. I’m also excited to be able to work with the teachers at Rasco. In all my days of substitute teaching, I have come to know many of them as friends and look forward to working together in a more official capacity. I’m also excited about what this means for our family: We can go to the doctor ’cause we’ll have health insurance. I’ll have a steady income. I’ve learned that God is the provider, but this will allow me to feel like I’m at least working with Him. This will also mean that I’ll be able to work on the same schedule as my wife and children.

Who knew?? I would never have guessed that just losing some orange name tags could mean so much.

Prayer – “Lord, although I’m happy to lose them, I also want to thank you for those orange name tags which played a role in how You provided for us during this time. Thank you for all that you taught us. Help us to continue to lean on You and trust You as our provider. Give us wisdom as we make decisions about how we will use these blessings which You have brought our way. Show us how to be good stewards of all that You have given us and please allow us to bless others as so many have done for us. AMEN.

rePost: I Want to Teach

family 02smTeacher’s Prayer:
I want to teach my students how to live this life on earth.
To face it’s struggles & it’s strife & to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong,
And gather all the beauty of a flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won & I have filled my place. .
And so I ask your guidance, God, that I may do my part.
For character and confidence and happiness of heart.
– James J. Metcalf


As an 18yr veteran of full-time youth ministry, I have decided that I want to move into the educational system. I’m NOT just looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one that I’m excited to do each day – one where I can truly make a difference in the world and impact/influence people. A teaching position seems to be the direction that God has been leading my wife and I. There are a couple of reasons:

1. I love working with students and this would put me with them every day. I have also always had an ability to connect with students who were different from the average “church-going” type of student and look forward to being able to work with them more regularly.

2. I believe my varied youth ministry experiences will be a huge asset in an educational environment. I have experience teaching, counseling, writing curriculum, training other teachers, leading groups, and supervising people. I also have experience with multimedia, interactive learning, team building, group work, and other creative teaching strategies.

I have completed the “act houston” Winter 2010 Institute for alternative certification and passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam with a score of 282 out of 300. This makes me “highly qualified” and eligible for a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies and have written many articles describing my philosophies/ideas about leadership. Some were even published by smallgrouptrader.com. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:

Leadership:
Leadership Compass & Teaching
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Bottom Leaders
Changing a Culture
Wizard of Oz Leadership
SmallGroupTrader
Bio:
Steve Corn

Articles:
I Don’t Know What We should Study
Leadership is Service
Practical Ways to Connect as a Group

During this time in our lives, God has granted us peace. I’m not sure how to explain it, (Jesus is the “Peace that passes understanding.” Philippians 4:7) but we are resting in the fact that He has never let us down and that as His children, He loves us. We don’t know how we’re going to survive and keep our house from one month to the next, but we feel that He is leading us down this road toward a teaching position. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. We need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

I Want to Teach

family 02smTeacher’s Prayer:
I want to teach my students how to live this life on earth.
To face it’s struggles & it’s strife & to improve their worth.
Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow,
But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go.
To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong,
And gather all the beauty of a flower and a song.
For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace,
Then I shall feel that I have won & I have filled my place. .
And so I ask your guidance, God, that I may do my part.
For character and confidence and happiness of heart.
– James J. Metcalf

As an 18yr veteran of full-time youth ministry, I have decided that I want to move into the educational system. I’m NOT just looking for a job, but a position that I can passionately pursue – one that I’m excited to do each day – one where I can truly make a difference in the world and impact/influence people. A teaching position seems to be the direction that God has been leading my wife and I. There are a couple of reasons:

1. I love working with students and this would put me with them every day. I have also always had an ability to connect with students who were different from the average “church-going” type of student and look forward to being able to work with them more regularly.

2. I believe my varied youth ministry experiences will be a huge asset in an educational environment. I have experience teaching, counseling, writing curriculum, training other teachers, leading groups, and supervising people. I also have experience with multimedia, interactive learning, team building, group work, and other creative teaching strategies.

I have completed the “act houston” Winter 2010 Institute for alternative certification and passed the 4-8th Generalist content exam with a score of 282 out of 300. This makes me “highly qualified” and eligible for a Probationary Certificate from the State of Texas.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Leadership from the College of Biblical Studies and have written many articles describing my philosophies/ideas about leadership. Some were even published by published by smallgrouptrader.com. If you’re interested, you can check out some of these articles here:

Leadership:
Leadership Compass & Teaching
Lions and Leadership
Little Shovel
Bottom Leaders
Changing a Culture
Wizard of Oz Leadership
SmallGroupTrader
Bio:
Steve Corn

Articles:
I Don’t Know What We should Study
Leadership is Service
Practical Ways to Connect as a Group

During this time in our lives, God has granted us peace. I’m not sure how to explain it, (Jesus is the “Peace that passes understanding.” Philippians 4:7) but we are resting in the fact that He has never let us down and that as His children, He loves us. We don’t know how we’re going to survive and keep our house from one month to the next, but we feel that He is leading us down this road toward a teaching position. I ask for your prayers, your advice, and your help. We need our friends (the body of Christ) to help us through this difficult time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Want to contact me?
Steve Corn
Dv84JC@yahoo.com
979-415-4522 (cell)

Creativity in Schools

I’m not sure what I think of all of this, but it’s really interesting to me. I’m planning on asking my alternative certification teachers about it. As public school teachers, would they be offended or do they see some of the same things themselves? I know that in my observations, I’ve seen teachers who are very concerned about the well-being of all their students. The “condemning mistakes” idea in the video may be true of the system, but I don’t think I’d say it’s true within the classroom – at least not the ones I’ve seen. Anyway, as a future teacher myself, I’m just wrestling with all these issues for the first time  and hope to hear back from more experienced teachers with their reactions to this video.

Ken Robinson says this in his TED talk. (Click the link or scroll to the bottom to watch the video. It’s about 20min, but it’s really interesting stuff.)

Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. . . and by the time they are adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They become frightened to be wrong, and we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso said this: “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” I believe this passionately – that “We don’t grow into creativity. We grow out of it.” or rather, we get educated out of it. . . . .

If you were to visit the education system as an alien and say, What’s it for? (Public Education) I think you’d have to conclude that, if you look at the output, you know, Who really succeeds by this? Who does everything they should? Who gets all the brownie points? You know, Who are the winners? I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. . . . And I like university professors. I used to be one, but there’s something curious about them. Not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It’s a way of getting their head to meetings. . .

The whole education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason, the whole system was invented. . . Around the world there were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. . . You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you’d never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music. You’re not gonna be a musician. Don’t do art. You’re not gonna be an artist. Benign advise. . . Universities designed the system in their own image. The consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not. Because the thing they were good at in school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way. . .

We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence. We know three things about intelligence: 1) It’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually. We think it sound. We think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms. We think in movement. 2) Intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of the human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity . . . more often than not comes about by the interaction of interdisciplinary ways of seeing things. . .3) Intelligence is distinct. . .

Our educational system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth – for a certain commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principals on which we are educating our children.

I have been studying to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher who is able to encourage students in every way – one who is able to recognize different gifts and abilities – even outside the realm of the subject I am hired to teach. I have also learned in my years of church work that sometimes the best education is the one that comes through mistakes. If it’s true that in order to be creative, one has to be willing to make mistakes, then maybe we should be celebrating mistakes from students those who are actually trying. I wonder how I can foster these kinds of attitudes in my classroom?

Here’s the video:

Leadership Compass

The leadership compass is the basis for the leadership model we studied at the College of Biblical Studies.

North = Character

South = Skills

West = Relationships

East = Vision

A true leader is a man/woman of character and influence with leadership skills to move people into a new preferred future/vision. The intersections of these four points are also important. For example: If you’re having a problem with people trusting you as a leader, you’ll see that trust is at the intersection of relationships and character. That means the root of the trust problem is either 1) Your people don’t know you well enough to trust you or 2) You have character faults which make them question whether or not you can lead them. It could also be a combination of the two.

I am setting out on a new adventure in life and am seeking a teaching position in the public school system. I believe this model will help me as I seek to influence both students and other teachers. My vision as a teacher is to teach more than just the curriculum, but also true wisdom. Wisdom beyond the textbooks. This kind of goal will require a strategy and this leadership model provides the basic outline for my philosophy of education. Influence is gained through character, relationships, skills, and vision. I will seek to be a man who is qualified in each of these areas.

Expectations Matter – Two Words

Expectations Matter. Part 1 – Two words matter. (This will be a short series of posts.)

Check out this psychological test!

A professor doesn’t show up to teach one day @ MIT. The students are told there will be a substitute and they are each given a short bio describing their sub. It reads:

“Mr. ___________ is a graduate student in the department of economics and social science here at MIT. He has had 3 semesters of teaching experience in psychology at another college. This is his 1st semester teaching this class. He is 26 yrs old, a veteran, and married. People who know him consider him to be a very warm person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”

Now, here’s the catch. Although they believed that everyone was reading the same bio, only half of the class got this bio. The other half got the same bio with two different words. The words “very warm” were replaced with “rather cold.” The last line of the 2nd one read, “People who know him consider him to be a rather cold person, industrious, critical, practical, and determined.”

After sitting in and viewing the exact same teacher under the exact same circumstances, the students were given a short questionnaire about the sub. By their responses, you’d think they had experienced two completely different classes with two different teachers. The students who got the “warm” bio, loved him. Their descriptions were: good-natured, considerate of others, informal, sociable, popular, humorous, and humane. The 2nd group with the “cold” bio described him as: self-centered, formal, unsociable, irritable, humorless, and ruthless.

Two words have the power to change our perceptions and possibly destroy a relationship before it even begins.


Expectations matter.

The example above is from the book “Sway” by Ori and Rom Brafman. I will be using a few more of their examples throughout this short series of posts. You should check out their book. It’s great stuff!

They call this effect the “diagnosis sway.” Once someone has “diagnosed” another person, it’s very difficult for them to let go of their perception and they will view every interaction with them through this lens. This is what happened to the students. The bios gave them a pre-determined diagnosis and so they viewed everything about the substitute through this lens – picking up subtle nuances and perceptions which would support their diagnosis. This is why first impressions are so important. Once someone has diagnosed you, they will see only those characteristics which will support their first impression diagnosis.

I wanted to write this series of posts because we’ve been talking about expectations in my teacher’s alternative certification classes. Teachers can be “swayed” or have the wrong expectations of a student for many reasons. At the beginning of the year a teacher may be tempted to talk to the students previous teachers to find out what he/she is like, but I’d say they should refrain. A student should have the opportunity to “start over” each year. The new teacher should be willing to “draw their own conclusions” without the influence of others.

“Stand and Deliver” is one of the great movies about teaching. This is the teacher hero’s secret. He has higher expectations of his students. He has not diagnosed them as average or incapable, but instead he sees the possibilities within them and encourages them. Expectations matter.