Open Your Door!

As a classroom teacher, I hated to be observed. Heck, I hated to teach in a room where another teacher was working, even if they weren’t even paying attention to me? I never could figure out why I felt that way…

Now that I have begun to live my life online — open and transparent, as much as possible — I realize how debilitating that prior mindset was to my teaching. Of course I learn a lot fromthe other great souls who are teaching and living out in the open. But my openness is forcing me to be more introspective and reflective: Why am I doing what I’m doing, and what can I do to make it better? Opening the door to my online persona has caused me to be more introspective and reflective. It has helped me to grow professionally and personally, even if nobody ever reads a word that I write.

I firmly believe that the average teacher’s, well, openness to openness is directly proportional to that of the school’s in which she works. It is a learned behavior that is nurtured by the institution. If a school were to implement a healthy open-door and/or walkthrough policy — with the goal of observation and not appraisal — it would be an easy step for those teachers to begin to share their professional practice to a wider audience.

So why are schools in general and teachers in particular so reticent to openning their doors, either to their parents or their colleagues or to the world? What are they afraid that others will see? Maybe more accurately, what are they afraid they themselves will see?

Image: ‘open door‘ licensed under CC BY NC

Free Brightstorm Offer

There are only a few days left to take advantage of free Brightstorm courses. The offer runs out on November 30, 2008… [The free course offer is finished, but at $49/per course/year it is still a great deal!]

For those that don’t know, Brightstorm offers online video courses in a variety of subjects: Geometry, Algebra II, SAT Writing, SAT Math, SAT Critical Writing, AP US History, AP US Government, US History, and Writing. 

I had the pleasure of working with the company over the summer and can say that they are unequivocally committed to bringing choice and quality to students everywhere, regardless of where they happen to live.

Check it out, give it a try, and let me know what you think! I’m hoping to go back next summer and improve upon Version 1.0. Also, if you’re interested in possibly creating and presenting a course, let me know and I’ll get some more information to you about applying.

Brightstorm is Coming!

StormOver the summer I did some work creating video math lessons that can be watched on a subscription basis. It’s called Brightstorm and I think it is pretty cool. Not only is it video content, but it is also trying to build a community of users who can connect. It’s initially marketed towards the US college bound market but I hope that it’ll go global in its audience soon!

The process was pretty amazing: professional camera crews, amazing office staff, great interns, and a fabulous setting. I am really excited about this concept: delivering high quality online video content to students who want it.

In the Small World Department: The production assistant in my studio said to me: “Are you the Mr. Hamada who used to teach at Rowland?” Yup, that’s right: after 8 years out of the country and almost 10 years since I taught him, Gilbert ended up going from my Geometry class as my student to my Brightstorm studio as my production assistant. Crazy…

If you’re interested in a beta account, go to the Brightstorm web site. Be sure to let them know you saw it here!

[[Disclosure: As you might have guessed, I am under contract with Brightstorm.]]

Photo credit: Teshub