Author: dewayneharrell

K-12 Educator |M.S. Ed. Leadership / Library Media | B.S. English |Life Long Learner | State Championship Basketball Coach | Educational Presenter | Grower of Food and Berries

Vision is Lonely #myPOVnotFACTS

Almost 18 years ago, the school in which I taught, went to a form of block scheduling. This prompted me to create stations in my classroom. The use of stations was something done at my basketball practices, which worked well for me at the time, so a similar template was used for my classroom.

Each class period was 90 minutes, so the breakdown of the class template looked like this:

10 min. – Daily Starter (grammar, writing, or reading)
10 min. – Discussion of the Daily Starter and Explanation of Assignments
15 min. – Reading Station
15 min. – Writing Station
15 min – Grammar Station
15 min. – Group Lesson (done at the beginning or the end depending on the lesson)

The rest of the missing time was used for conversation and transition. There were also concepts and topics substituted into the blocks as well. These were some of the following topics:

Real World Applications
Student Projects (Individual and Group)
Newspaper Activities
Communication Activities
…. and others that kept students engaged as much as possible.

Now, that you have some background information, maybe you will be able to better understand the moral of this post. You see, now all the “cool kids” in education are using stations in their classrooms. Terms like “blended learning”, “flexible classrooms”, “personalized learning”, “maker space”, and “student centers” are all floating around on the internet these days. When my stations were created for the classroom and for the basketball court, all of the above phrases were done out of necessity. 20170804_130923All of my stations were, and matter of fact, still are today, interactive student centered lessons that give students independence and flexibility. This vision created years ago, was looked upon as strange and unstructured. Many thought students wouldn’t be able to learn maintain a positive behavior in the free flowing environment. At the time, the notion of convincing others was not important to me. The fact that students were developing, communicating, and working to their own individual potential was enough proof in my eyes.

Although, one teacher did get a response from me about my teaching practices. My first year teaching, a veteran teacher question a vocabulary assignment given to my sophomore English students. The gist of the activity was that students were drawing pictures, or either using “cut out” magazine pictures to help remember the vocabulary words. My justification was simple and effective – “They all passed their test last week.”

So, sticking with my intuition about my students and the content being taught,  a better way to reach and teach my students was found. Of course, ideas were stolen from others, but the overall planning and presentation was devised through my vision of how students needed to be taught and learn as individuals. At times, having a vision was and still is lonely, but it’s nice to see it come true for others – even if they are or were a little late.

… should have “copyrighted” everything I did in my early years of teaching and coaching!


Get Lucky Sometimes #myPOVnotFACTS

Hard work creates additional opportunities for people in general, but sometimes, people just get lucky.

Throughout my journey, my work ethics have been top notch. The effort put forth between the ages of 16 – 30 has given me the opportunity to achieve a number of goals in my life. Of course, my hard work has not altered much since the age of 30, but the ability to “play” a little more in life has been occurring.

At one time in my life, I was a “master teacher” for a public television station. The entire situation was more of the “right place, right time” for me. There was a professional development opportunity through the television station offered to teachers, and I signed up for it. The workshop looked interesting, and there was an offer of something FREE at the end, so I attended. After attending three or four sessions, the idea of my being a presenter entered into my mind.lottery ticket

So, after the conference, the decision to sign up to become a presenter was easy.  There was an application, a letter of reference needed, and some other requirements needed in order to become a presenter. That Monday between classes, and maybe even during classes, the arrangement of materials  were organized in order to complete the task of becoming a presenter. This was not a difficult endeavor, but it did take a little effort and organization on my part.

Not sure when there was contact about presenting with the television station, but it happened. This responsibility of becoming a “master teacher” began the next semester. Now, this was important because it gave me the chance to help other teachers with  incorporating video and technology into their lessons. This entire scenario continued for about five years with me giving between two and three presentations a year. Being “lucky” enough to get this work, allowed me to broaden my skills as a speaker and a teacher. I also met great people, who shaped me into the individual I am today. Once again, “lucky” is the word used because not everyone gets the good fortune to be a “teacher” and a “student” simultaneously.

Oh yeah, it was a paying “gig”, so that was even better!