Anna-Marie Robertson [robertson8686]
What subjects do you teach? What types of students do you have?
I am an online instructor for Richard McKenna Charter High School Online. I teach Math courses. All of my students are online high school students.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can see something about what you do or the center where you work?
How have your past experiences prepared you for teaching? How did you become interested in education?
I substituted a third grade class in 1992. I loved it! I graduated with my BS degree in Secondary education with an emphasis in Math and Business. I was a paraprofessional to an accountant for 20 years prior to that. I went into math because of my love for numbers.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
I think my most influential teacher was Mrs. Laughlin. She was my typing and accounting and shorthand teacher in high school. I liked her because she saw in me my potential. She allowed me to work as fast as I wanted while still maintaining my GPA. She found more and more work for me to do at a harder, more challenging level. She helped me to earn a state award in Accounting. She never got tired of finding things for me to do.
What is your educational philosophy?
My educational philosophy is that everyone can learn. Not everyone learns the same way at the same time, but everyone can learn.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching for you?
Right now I am teaching online at a school that only offers independent study courses. I find it very challenging not to have any contact with any of my colleagues, and very little contact with my students. I would like more a more cooperative situation.
What kind of relationship do you have with your students?
My students are all online. I never see them until they graduate. They are not required to have any contact with anyone. I try to stay in touch with them by giving them my IM and skype information and by texting. It's difficult though when they are in independent study.
What is the secret to instilling interest in knowledge?
The secret to instilling interest in knowledge is two-fold.
1) You must have the interest yourself. You must be enthusiastic about the material or no one else will be.
2) You must provide information or lesson material that is on the level of the student. That hits her/him where their interest lies.
It's a constant challenge to keep up with technology AND to be creative enough to implement it in meaningful ways to grab the interest of students.
What is your philosophy on homework and grading?
Homework is irrelevant where I work. I teach online. A student logins in, works through a lesson, then completes the activity. I like to grade my student's work myself. Some of what I do is computer-graded, but I always throw in something that I have to grade so a student actually has to think about their answer. Grading should be quick and meaningful.
Is it possible to teach creativity? how?
Well, if it is, I need that lesson!
How do you establish authority? What do you do when a discipline problem arises?
With teaching online, there is no discipline. Or if there is, the parents take care of it on their end. With my courses, the student has to have that "Gottawanna" attitude. If they don't "Wanna" then they won't. However, if I have a discipline problem in email or with the instant messenger, I just turn in their name and the offending material to the administration and that student is removed from my course.
How do you individualize your teaching? How do you handle the different ability levels of students in classes?
With online teaching it's difficult to deal with individual styles and abilities.
I try to infuse several different modalities into my lessons. I like to have a narrated video, a printable version, an interactive portion, and other things for them to do. I figure the more there is for them to do in different modalities, the better chance I have of having something that will engage each student where their abilities lie. We have an IEP instructor that takes care of all Individualized Education Plans. That person works with the student, their family, and the administration, to create an atmosphere that will work for that particular student. That information is relayed to the teacher through our LMS and is attached to each student respectively.
What cooperative learning means to you. How have you used it?
Cooperative learning is when students cooperate together to complete a task or a project. My school doesn't allow cooperative learning. We only offer independent study for those students that just want to work through the material with little interaction. I would like to have an opportunity to work with students that work together cooperatively.
What do you expect from your supervisor? What qualities would you like to have in your principal?
The supervisor at my school is the principal and one of the counselors. She does a fantastic job! She deals with all the students and their families and makes sure each student is in the class that is correct for them at the time. She lets me know of any developments with any of my students. She is very personable and easy to contact.
What issues in education are of greatest concern to you?
My greatest concern right now is the large number of students that are graduating from high school and cannot get into higher education because they can't pass the math placement tests. I don't understand what's happening. How can these students graduate if they don't understand the material? I am working on my Masters Degree in Educational Technology. I have formed a group that is taking a hard look at the students that need remediation in math before they can enter college. We are forming a company that will try to do something about this growing problem.
Would it be a good thing if teachers had economic incentives based on student performance?
NO! If you bring money into the mix, teachers will be passing students just to get the money. That won't help anyone. You can't just throw money at a problem and hope it goes away.
Besides more financial resources, what do today's schools lack?
Today's schools lack continuity. I think all schools should be on a level playing field. It should be easy for a student to move from one school to another without worrying about transferring credits, being behind or ahead of the material, or their geographical location. I think each student should be able to go where ever they need to go to get the education they want. Today's schools also lack a way to get teachers working together across the country. Teachers should be in contact with one another to build and create and celebrate.
What are some ways you have incorporated technology into the classroom.
I teach online. I use technology all the time.
Sometimes I wish I could step back into the classroom in a brick and mortar school just to try out some of the new things that abound out there. I use Dreamweaver, Fireworks, PowerPoint, Math Websites, Flash, and much more to create engaging lessons for my students.
In light of new technologies, do we need to reinvent the school, its methods and objectives?
Yes! I believe we need to reinvent the school. The way knowledge is taught now is still stuck back in the 1900's. Why are we still using textbooks? Students are online more now than ever before. We need to capitalize on that. Why can't students move around from school to school and have their funding follow them where ever they go? Why can't schools run more like business with competition? I am starting to see more and more advertising where online schools are involved. These schools are run more like a business where the students are their clients. In this case, the funding does follow the student. However, in my state, a student still can't enroll in more than one school at a time. Why? If a student finds a class in one school that is close to his/her home and then finds another one at another school, why can't they take both? Why do our schools have to be open only from 8:40 to 3:10 everyday? Why do kids have to sit in a desk all day in that school? Why can't they come and go as needed? Schools should rearrange themselves maybe more like a college does as far as the course offerings go. A student should have more flexibility and schools should open their doors more.
If you could create the ideal school, what would it be like?
The ideal school?
A place where a student can pick and choose what they need according their personal educational needs and wants -- from a variety of places (both online and not).
A cooperative system that allows a student to "go" where ever is needed to get the education they desire. A student wouldn't be bound geographically to any one school. All schools would have continuity.
A place where classes are offered at all times of the day in a room or online.
School should be portable. If a student is taking U.S. Government and their work schedule varies, then the student should be able to drop into which ever class is available at the time (this would need continuity), or they can make it up by watching the associated webinar material.
Teachers can be hired on an adjunct basis to teach one or many classes for different places including brick and mortar and online.
The way we teach needs to change too.
Teachers would be in constant contact with one another. They would work together to implement cross curricular material and to provide continuity.
They would be able to work together to follow a student through which ever path they have chosen (through different places).
They would be able to bring their respective groups of students together in a virtual environment to work as one to solve a problem or tutor each other.
Oh so much more in an ideal school.
What do you think schools will be like in 20 years?
Unfortunately I think schools will be just the same as they are now.
The same old lessons being taught with more technology.
A place that is bound by geography.
A place where hoards of young people file in everyday to stay for 6 hours or so
Each class is a different place and interacts with no one else.
Past history has shown us that not much changes.
What are your professional goals? Where do you want to be in five years?
My professional goals include being able to find a solution to the growing problem of students that graduate from high school and then can't pass the Math entrance exam to get into their local community college.
Five years from now I will be in a virtual world teaching math in 3D with actual real life representations of objects, not as abstract formulas on a page from a textbook.
What qualities would you need to see in someone before advising him/her to go into teaching?
A desire to learn constantly (life-long learner)
An ability to know that there is more than one way to teach something
A desire to seek out new ways to capture students' attention
Courage to try new things every day
Self confidence it takes to allow the students to guide the learning
Ability to work cooperatively with other teachers and between sets of students