Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Impact Presentation: Nonnewaug High School Faculty and Staff

Today I presented for about a half hour to the faculty and staff of Nonnewaug High School, which included teachers from all subject areas, Guidance staff, administrators, and Library staff, for a total of approximately 80 people.

I started out by asking the staff what came to mind when they heard the word "Korea."  Answers ranged from anything related to K-Pop, to things they had heard in the news regarding North Korea. It was interesting to hear what they had to say, especially since more than one person had confused my trip for having been to Japan.  I think it was useful for me to include a picture of the world map to help them orient themselves.

As far as the general theme of the presentation, I tried to focus on not only what we learned specifically about Agricultural Education, but also about general education in Korea.  I also emphasized the mentoring experience that we engaged in.  It seemed to tie in particularly well with what we had been discussing in our Professional Learning today, since we were going over the new Teacher Evaluation Rubric from the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching. 

One of the areas that we are assessed on is "Professional Responsibilities and Teacher Leadership."  In order to demonstrate an exemplary rating, one must "Participate actively in required professional learning and seek out opportunities within and beyond the school to strengthen skills and apply new learning to practice, as well as taking a lead in and/or initiates opportunities for professional learning with colleagues."  It seemed that what our practice in Korea was doing, was helping to model a method of Professional Learning that could be implemented in the U.S. as well.

Much of our Professional Learning today was centered on "data-driven decision making", "research" and lots of number crunching.  When presented with this information all day, it can be extremely overwhelming and daunting to feel motivated about the craft of teaching.  I emphasized the focus that South Korea is placing on "Happy and Creative Education for All" as a way for us to re-center our learning on the art and passion we all have for teaching.  I felt that the staff responded in a very positive fashion and they seemed to enjoy the presentation quite a bit!

Questions asked include the following:

1. What do people do for recreation in South Korea?
2. With all of the emphasis on intensive hands-on instruction, how many students go on to pursue a college education in South Korea?
3. What is South Korea's stance towards GMOs? (Genetically Modified Organisms)
4. When you were planning your micro-lessons, did you bear in mind the "Happy and Creative Education for All" as a guiding principle for lesson planning?

I really enjoyed the opportunity to present to my fellow staff members.  I had the unique chance to teach fellow teachers about agricultural education through another lens.  We have a lot of new staff at our school, so not only did this teach them about Korean Ag Ed, but also Agricultural Education in the US. 

While I was answering the 4th question listed above, I had the opportunity to share the "nugget" of information that we formulated while at Yeoju: "Good teaching for English Language Learners or other students with learning needs, is good teaching for all students!"  I emphasized the need for planning that doesn't focus exclusively on hands-on activities that are fun just for the sake of making students happy, but also for them to be "hands-on, minds-on."  Frequently Agriscience classes may have the misconception that they are just classes for kids to "go play in" without learning any meaning behind the activity they are performing.  This discussion was the perfect platform to help dispel that myth.

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