Year in Review Paper--Timm Ringhofer : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Final Thoughts for the 1998-99 International Falls M. Ed. Cohort Timm Ringhofer Well, this whole process started about eighteen months ago as a few current members and at least one non-member attempted to get a program like the current one started here in International Falls. About twelve months ago, we had selected UMD as our school of choice. Nine months ago, we spent a Saturday deciding on the topics to be covered over the past school year. Now, here we are nearly one-half of the way to becoming master teachers. The thought of being finished with the whole thing brings a smile to my face.

I recall that Saturday when we were deciding on topics for the school year. I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time. I believed that I was making a huge time commitment to be away from my family, one that I wasnt sure I could pull off because it hardly ever seemed like I was home before this started. However, I learn to cut back on my other extra activities, and I managed to survive along with my wife and kids. Getting back to that Saturday meeting, I sat there most of the day not realizing what we were planning. Yes, I knew we were deciding on topics, but what were we really going to do.

The year started off by watching a number of videos on the toxic child. The topic is one that a lot of teachers should be given the opportunity to take part in. However, as we and I believe the University College found out, this participation should be done live with the presenter and not through video tape. The ability to ask the presenter questions and really get involved in the presentation was not possible, and I believe that we knew this every Wednesday afternoon prior to watching the video tapes. It would have been the greatest if the presenters could have come to International Falls or done the presentations via ITV.

Probably the most memorable thing that I will remember about our Wednesday night classes is the night that Dawn Martinson came to International Falls and presented on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Her energy is infectious to everyone around her. Prior to meeting Dawn at the Saturday meeting, I had never been given such a detailed description of the Myers-Briggs. She made it very personal by telling what type she was immediately, and then admitting to the faults and the good things that this type of person has and really has no control over. The next thing she did was allows to find out what type of person we are. It was really interesting to me that many people think of me as an extrovert because of my loud voice, but deep down, and the test showed, that my original thought that I am introvert is true. I have a very difficult time opening up to people until I really get to know them. Once I do though, watch out, because I like to let loose. This whole discussion on personality type really got me thinking about my wife. She is definitely the opposite of me in at least two of the four categories, and this made me wonder how we coexist in the same house at times. It made me realize that when she does certain things, she is not doing it to tick me off. She is doing it because that is what type of person she is, the same for me. It has allowed me to grow up and become more of an adult in a lot of situations. By learning more about this topic, I also believe that I have become a more patient teacher with some of the learning and discipline problems in the classroom. I now realize that some students are doing certain things not to make me angry, but because that is the type of person they are and the environment that they have been raised in at home.

The area covered that will stay with me the most is the computer aspects that we have covered in Education 5412, 5413, and 5414. This has improved my teaching the most of anything covered in the past nine months. I have learned about computer hardware and software basics, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, desktop publishing, the Internet, the World Wide Web, listservs, telnet, e-mail, PowerPoint, HyperStudio, freeware and shareware on the Internet, and countless other little things too numerous to list here.

When we started these computer classes, I was a bit apprehensive because I thought as a math person that I should have my emphasis in mathematics. However, the math classes that I would have taken at a graduate level possibly would not have helped me very much in the high school math classroom, where I definitely intend to stay. This made my decision to take the computer classes a little easier. The chance also to take all these classes in International Falls was another factor. Being away from my family because of excess travel or summer school was not the route I wanted to take. Finally, the classes have been so helpful already. I know can do my grades on the computer better than I could ever before I took these classes. I can do presentations with PowerPoint, which I believe that I will use in the future. Currently, our classrooms do not have the option of PowerPoint, but I am told we will in the near future. The ability to do certain class presentations with PowerPoint will be fun for me and the students. Probably the most exciting aspect of the computer classes is that I now have the confidence to go on the Internet knowing that I will probably be able to find what I am looking for in a reasonable amount of time. I know more tricks of locating areas using search engines, and this has improved my teaching significantly.

Barb McDonald has done a superb job doing a very difficult task. To come in on a Wednesday night and try to explain research to a bunch of people who have not ever done this before is a daunting task. She has really poured herself into this area and has helped point us in the right direction at crucial points in our masters quest.

The great book that I read was A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned by Jane Tompkins. The book was about a woman who became a college English professor and did not seem real happy with the way her life transpired. It was very frustrating reading at many points because she was bashing the very thing that I want to do for the rest of my life. We are kind of comparing apples to oranges with teaching college to teaching high school, so I can understand where some differences occur. However, there is nothing that I really take with me from reading the book other than I hope that I do not turn out as frustrated or burned out as Jane Tompkins is or was.

The book by Stephen Covey was in my opinion an idealistic book that would be very difficult to apply to teaching in a grade 7-12 environment. A lot of his ideas would work in a one-to-one relationship or a very small group, but to try to do this with 150 students that one only sees for 44 minutes a day is very difficult. This might work a little better in an elementary environment where the student has the same teacher all day, but with 25 students needing this type of attention is extremely difficult. I just dont believe that this can work in my everyday situation.

William Glassers book The Quality School was also idealistic, but not to the extent that Coveys is. I will keep this book around for future reference.

Ladd Kocinskis two Wednesday night classes in April at the house were incredibly fun and most insightful to the aspect of construction. I am very much a novice in this area, but Ladd did a great job of explaining to us the simple points of basic construction.

Well, there are my reflections of the past year. This is not all of them, but they are the big ones that stand out in a year that set a hectic pace. I will not forget the dinners that went on a longer than scheduled and the good times at the Border. I am eagerly anticipating next May when we walk onto the stage to official become master teachers.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 1999

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