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The cleaner who became a teacher

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

They say your first job is meant to be awful. It is clear that more often than not your first job will not guarantee you a sense of fulfillment; it is simply a milestone on the path to personal triumph.

I started working in the ninth grade.

My first job was as a cleaner in the house and office of my employer. I would go there two to three times per week after school, dust the furniture, mop the floors and clean the space in front of the building. At first I was quite ashamed to tell my friends what I did, but soon I realized that there is no bad job when you earn money in an honest way through labor and diligence. I worked there for a year and a half and while it remained a stagnant, unstimulating position throughout this time, I did like the opportunity to exercise being happy in disadvantageous conditions. I reflect on those times with appreciation.

228168_475160032518884_1363675462_nMy second job was as a children’s party entertainer. I have worked for a lot of party companies over the past few years and I planned and hosted parties for my young guests on my own. My tasks were to make the decorations, welcome the guests and then organize games and dancing. It took quite a measure of responsibility as well, as it’s easy for children lost in the gleeful moments of a new game to injure themselves. I really liked the fact that I could be creative and always come up with new ideas for games or themed parties. What excited me the most is that games can be not only fun, but educational as well. I paid particular attention to innovations in the field of Gamification, my interest being captured both by its practical implications and its psychological context.

250593_2014367969855_7390944_nIn 2011 I started working as Manager of Youth Activities for an NGO called NC Future Now. I would meet young people to familiarize them with the different programs and projects, in which they could take part, promote our work in radios and TV shows, organize events, etc. I loved this job, as my tasks were very similar to what I’d been doing in my own charity—the only difference being that I was paid for it!

One of my most important tasks during I worked there was to get an accreditation for the organization to host and send volunteers through the European Voluntary Service (an EU funded program). I not only succeeded to get the accreditation from the institution that was reviewing the applications, but was even invited to attend a training course for youth workers in France where, to no surprise, I was the youngest participant.

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I was in the 8th grade when I first watched “Pay it Forward”. I was greatly inspired, and started dreaming of becoming a teacher myself someday: being able to inspire my students and attune their mindsets so that they can see all the possibilities there are in the world and do the best with their potential.

In the second term of my senior year I started working as a part-time lecturer in a school close to our capital, Sofia as a part of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Education program for informal education integrated in the classroom. I had two groups of students whom I met twice a week. I taught Dance Therapy (Metadance) classes with my second graders as well as supervised a Club of Young Travelers in English with students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

430154_3408396379694_953265264_nMy Dance Therapy group consisted of fifteen lively, lovely and extremely loud and full of energy second graders. The program consisted mainly of workshops exploring movement and various dance exercises aimed to establish trust between students, reduce stress, overcome barriers in communication caused by prejudices towards children from the minorities; transform their energy and guide it into positive social actions and creativity, thus decreasing the outbursts of violation between the students. I was especially satisfied by the student’s positive reaction towards group discussions after each exercise, in which they shared interesting insights.

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551103_3495544038331_1314023837_nWith my older students age 13-15 my real challenges and successes began. I easily attracted their attention not only with my age being close to theirs, but especially with my impressive travel history. When I told them what I planned our classes to be like, they hardly believed me as they never before had acquainted themselves with informal education. Speaking English in class was as exciting for some as difficult and troublesome for others.

dsc02862The principal of the school had put some of the most difficult students in my group just so that there would be sufficient number of students. Nobody expected anything of me, but I found that a good possibility for me to show them more than they could have ever expected. Soon, I started bringing foreigners to our little school, setting up presentations about Algeria, Mexico, UK, and Morocco, attracting students from the other classes as well. A graduate from my high school who knew thirty-five languages made a great presentation on the process of learning languages.

dsc02940Some of the boys in the group were quite hard to handle, but being open and honest were my strongest instruments. I remember one of these clever, but lazy and unbelieving boys asking me why I have come to work with students who are ill-behaved and careless. I told him then that I believe in people and their potential and that I think that many times it is not that people are bad, but that for different reasons they wear masks of negativity not to be hurt, or just so that the others will like them. All of the boys were listening quietly and I was sure they understood me perfectly.

My teaching experience was a process of learning all the time both for my students and for me. There was a girl whom I let come into my classes even though she didn’t sign up in the beginning, but she actually distracted the boys and was not really interested in what we were doing. On one of the first class trips, I decided that it would be better to not take her with us so that the boys would be more concentrated. That turned out to be a decision with consequences: the two boys that I spent so much effort to engage decided not to come to class anymore. I apologized to them, thus not only learning a lesson myself, but also showing them what the right thing to do is when you are wrong.

dsc03066Through watching short movies, making presentations, engaging into fun exercises with educational content and most importantly- sharing opinions and learning from each other, I think I succeeded helping them realize that they should learn less for grades and more for themselves. I taught them they needed to be open-minded, aware of their stereotypes, responsible of their behavior and the way it affects others, and most importantly that the world has much to offer if only they are willing to work for it.

Being an educator is by all means my favorite occupation. Leading workshops for young adults during exchange programs as part of my extracurricular activities and having this amazing and transforming experience in the school gives me the confidence I am on the right track of what I want to do in my life and what the change I want to make in the world is. Improving educational systems, developing new educational tools and practices and leading people towards awareness of their need to develop is what truly makes me happy and willing to go on.

Going back hapily with the final result Organized a street action: everyone drawing together on the topic of "How will a better world look like?"" dsc03151 drawing and inviting people to share their positive message Trying out meditation Boat sailing during one of our trips

 

♥Maggie Nazer is a social entrepreneur, activist, blogger and current Middlebury college student.


James Morrison on Lecture Capture

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

The Curricular Technology team organized a number of sessions with faculty innovators to find how they were using technology (see: Presentations by Faculty Innovators).  More recently, the team invited James Morrison, Assistant Professor of Political Science, to do a presentation on how he creates podcasts of his lectures.

Prof. Morrison uses a USB-powered label mic that he plugs into his laptop.  He is currently using GarageBand to record audio.  Typically, he’ll make a copy of a previous lecture podcast to preserve the metadata and intro and outro audio.   When he’s done recording a class lecture, he can then simply update the title, date and description and adjust the positioning of outro audio.  The audio file can then be exported and uploaded to his course site.

Here are links to some of his podcasts:

International Political Economy (Fall 09)
International Politics (Spring 2010)

Presentations by Faculty Innovators

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

The Curricular Technology team in its review of course and curricular sites has identified a number of faculty who have been particularly innovative in their use of technology. The team has had informal conversations with many of these faculty but wanted to try to bring at least some of them together to show us how they are using technology and to tell us what they need. So the team organized a session last week and invited five faculty members to present their work and discuss their needs. Based on these presentations we have identified some of the functional requirements for innovators.

Chemistry course site in Facebook (Jeff Byers)

Carrie MacFarlane interviewed Prof. Byers last summer and documented his use of Facebook for large lecture courses on the Teaching with Technology blog. Prof. Byers is generally skeptical of “course management systems.” He certainly doesn’t think of himself as the “course manager” and he sees more value in students learning by collaboration rather then coming to him with all their questions. He chose Facebook because students were already familiar with it and were comfortable using it for sharing.

Inter-institutional Collaboration (Hector Vila)

Prof. Vila discussed his use of Segue for teaching Midd students how to teach writing to high school students. Because of the need to ensure the privacy of student-created content and also provide Midd students access to the work of high school students they were mentoring, clearly defined access control was critical. Segue did a reasonably good job of this, though defining the roles for students was a time consuming process. Also challenging was setting up and managing user accounts for students from two different high schools.

Student Video Assignments (Enrique Garcia)

Prof. Garcia requires his students to make videos as a way to practice their Spanish and hear themselves speaking. He allows his students to chose the topics for their videos and teaches them how to edit their work with iMovie. Generally he has found that his students enjoy making these videos and that the work seems to engage them and keeps them using the language more.

Prof. Garcia has distributed some of this work on YouTube but would prefer a service such as MiddMedia so that he could upload longer and higher quality student videos and be able to better control access. While Prof. Garcia has taught students how to edit videos himself, he would appreciate more support for this.

Internet Art (Hope Tucker)

Prof. Tucker teaches a course on internet art in which she introduces students to a wide range of technologies including twitter, social bookmarking and wikis. Like Prof. Vila , access control is important for this work because students are more expressive and experimental when they know access to their work is limited to the class.

Prof. Tucker has found that having MediaWiki sites restricted to her class to be particularly useful. These sites enable her students to collaborate on projects and MediaWiki’s history display allows her to track all the contributions to a given project by individual students so she is able assess their work. MediaWiki also provides a space for students to refine their work before later posting to Wikipedia.

For her Internet Art class, Prof. Tucker requires her students to “create a work that investigates emergent forms of media.” For this project, she teaches her students how to create basic web sites using Adobe Dreamweaver because it is particularly important for her course that her students be able to create their own design. That said, Prof. Tucker would consider letting students use content management systems such as WordPress, Segue or MediaWiki if students could edit the CSS of the template files for these platforms.

Web -based Audio Recording (Roberto Veguez)

Prof. Veguez noted a significant shortcoming in our current technology offerings. In the past, the Sunderland Language Center had a number of booths where students could listen to audio recordings on audio cassettes and record themselves saying what they heard and then be able to compare their pronunciation with what they heard. These language booths are no longer available and we do not have adequate replacement for them.

Students can record themselves using tools like Audacity. However setting Audacity up in a way that allows them to easily record themselves repeating language they hear from a website is a bit more challenging. Some sort of web-based audio recording tool that could be placed on the same page as the audio file they are listening to could make exercise much easier.

Other language faculty have expressed interest in web-based audio recording tools for assignments and assessment. Currently students do audio assignments using tools like Audacity to record and save audio files. However to then submit these recordings for assignments requires uploading the audio file to the course website or emailing to their instructor. Having a web-based recording tool means that students could access the assignment description on the course site and then record themselves from the same page and have that recording automatically saved to the site eliminating the need to upload it. Web-based recording tools would also be very useful for oral proficiency exams.