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Voices from the Learning Revolution
Hello my El Paso friends! I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with you as you journey down the PLP learning road. I will be learning beside you and from you and I thank you in advance for the honor. I came from a background of poverty and abuse and was the first Honeycutt to go to college. It was probably the influence of the many teachers who reached out to me and made me believe in myself that sent me to Ottawa University to become an art teacher. I met my wife in the first week of college and we were in a play together. I knew she was the one immediately, it took her a bit longer to draw the same conclusion. : )
I was an art teacher for five elementary schools at the start of my career, teaching 1500 kids on a four week rotation. During this tenure I found it amazing to learn from so many truly gifted elementary teachers. I stole techniques and approaches to classroom management every day and credit this crazy time for making me a confident teacher.
After a year learning, teaching and running between five buildings I took a position at USD 448 in Inman KS. I was to be the entire art department in a small town school with around 700 students. I was the 1-12 art teacher and split my time between two buildings. In the morning I was teaching HS art and I left for the GS after three classes and did three 40 minute classes with the 1-6 kids. The last leg of my day was to return to the HS to teach and hour of Jr. High art. This schedule kept me hopping and demanded I focus on multiple grade levels
and ages all day long.
You know how it is, classroom teaching is never the only thing we have to do in our jobs and this was true for me too. I was alternatively a cheerleader coach, Jr. High football coach, forensics coach and the director of the school plays and musicals. I loved most of my extra duty responsibilities and considered them extended opportunities to teach and mentor kids.
One thing you'll learn about me pretty quick is I have a passion for helping at-risk learners. Whether they come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, toxic households or abuse/neglect situations or they have a dysfunction or a range of them, I am called to attempt to help them find the best success they can. In my tenure at Inman I collected these kids, many of them taking art four years in a row and trying out for plays and football to be around a positive mentor. They seemed to gravitate to me and if you work with this population you know they can take a lot out of you.
I was always looking for anything I could find to motivate and re-engage these learners. I read books and looked at brain research and strategized ways to help these "lost" learners. In my research and continual learning I kept hearing about project based learning. The idea of connecting what kids needed to know to real world relevance seemed to fit with the kind of needs my lost learners seemed to have. Instead of asking me; Why do I need to know this? They understood the real world importance of what we were learning.
Two thirds of the way through my 13 year teaching tenure I began to explore the potential of new technologies to motivate my learners. I noticed that many of my students were fascinated by hardware and software but I knew that they had to be getting real learning if I was to prepare them for success beyond high school. I began combining PBL and technology tools and focusing on doing projects that mirrored those in the real world of working, employed artists and designers.
What become clear was that this combination of PBL and tech tools created a potent learning opportunity. The learning curves were steep for me and I often felt inadequate and perhaps the only thing that kept me going was the belief that my approach was not only motivating my learners but was preparing them for real careers in the world.
In those days there were no networks of teachers, sharing ideas and best practices daily. There were list serves and journals to read but much of what I was trying felt like new and scary stuff that wasn't in journals. These days teachers have so many resources in terms of tools but more importantly in terms of other teachers and learning communities. I am thrilled to share thinking in such a place and to here your stories and passions and to learn from them. I hope you will reach out to me and connect, ask questions and push my thinking. I live on such food.
My Digital Footprint
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: Kevinski Braveheart
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