Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1990 Cavaliers

I found this today while onstensibly doing other things. Can't believe its been 20 years!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

List of N. Illinois school district web and job application links

Since the beginning of the month, I have done a systematic job application process, applying online to every school district I can within a 75-mile radius of DeKalb. To make checking on these applications easier, I have compiled a list of district web sites and direct links to their online job applications.

As I've discovered in the past few weeks, it can be a chore clicking through various layers of a school's web site to find it's job application link. I have double-checked the district information to the Wikipedia list of Illinois School Districts. I also have a list of districts that require paper applications and districts that do not have an online application process or a paper document to fill out. For these districts, a resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation will suffice.

I have compiled all web site and job application information for the following northern Illinois counties: Boone, Bureau, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, McHenry, Ogle, Will, and Winnebago.

I will keep this post updated throughout the job search process. Please post corrections or links that do not work in the comments section.

Belvidere Community Unit School District #100

North Boone Community Unit School District 200


Suburban Cook County Online Application Consortium

Districts served:

* Alsip, Hazelgreen & Oak Lawn School District 126
* Cicero Public School District 99
* Indian Springs School District 109
* Lyons Elementary District 103
* Midlothian School District 143
* Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123
* Saint Ignatius College Prep
* Steger School District 194

Argo Community High School

Arlington Heights School District 25

Avoca School District 37

Bellwood School District #88

Berkeley School District 87

Berwyn North School District 98

Berwyn South School District 100

Bloom Township High School District 206

Bremen High School District 228

Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95

Brookwood School District 167

Burbank School District 111

Calumet Public School District 132

School District 54

Community Consolidated School District 59

District 62

Community Consolidated Schools District 168

Cook County School District 130

Country Club Hills School District 160

Dolton - Riverdale School District 148

East Maine School District 63

East Prairie School District 73

Elementary School District 159

Elmwood Park Community Unit School District #401

Evanston Township High School District 202

Evanston District 65‏

Evergreen Park School District 124

Evergreen Park Community High School District 231

**(can only complete application if applying for a vacant position)

District 72

Flossmoor School District 161

Forest Park School District 91

Forest Ridge School District 142

Franklin Park School District #84

District 218

Glencoe School District 35

Glenview District #34

Golf School District 67

Harvey School District 152

Hillside School District 93

District 233‏

Homewood School District #153

J. Sterling Morton High School District 201

Kenilworth School District No. 38‏

Kirby School District 140

Elementary School District 102

LaGrange School District 105

**LaGrange Highlands School District 106

Lemont High School District 210

Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A

Leyden High School District 212

Lindop School District 92

*(must mail or fax in)

Lincolnwood School District 74

District 207

Lyons Township High School District 204

Mannheim School District #83

Matteson School District 162

Maywood/Melrose Park/Broadview School District 89

Park View School - District 70

Mount Prospect School District 57

**New Trier High School

Niles Elementary School District 71

Niles Township High School District 219

Norridge School District 80

Northbrook School District 27

Northbrook/Glenview School District 30‏

Northbrook School District 28

District 225

Oak Lawn Community High School

Oak Park - River Forest School District 200

Oak Park Elementary School District #97

Orland School District 135

Community Consolidated School District 15

Palos School District 118

Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163


Pennoyer School District #79

Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144

District 23

Proviso Township High Schools

Reavis High School - District 220

Rhodes School District 84.5

Rich Township High School District 227

Ridgeland School District 122

Ridgewood High School

River Forest Public School District 90

River Trails School District 26

Riverside Brookfield High School

Riverside School District 96

Rosemont School District 78

Schiller Park School District 81

Skokie School District 68

Skokie School District 69

Skokie School District 73.5

New site:

Old site (still active):

Summit School District 104

Sunset Ridge School District 29

Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215

Thornton Township High School District 205

Community Consolidated School District 146 - Tinley Park, IL

Township High School District 211

Township High School District 214‏

Union Ridge School District 86

West Northfield School District 31

Westchester Public Schools 92 ½

Western Springs School District 101

Community Consolidated School District 21

Wilmette Public Schools District 39

Winnetka Public Schools


DeKalb County Regional Office of Education
Districts served:
• DeKalb CUSD #428
• Genoa-Kingston #424
• Hiawatha CUSD #426
• Hinckley-Big Rock High School #429
• Indian Creek Shabbona #425
• Sandwich Community #430
• Somonauk CUSD #432
• Sycamore CUSD #427
• The Northwestern Illinois Association (The NIA)


DuPage County Regional Office of Education

Addison School District 4

Bensenville Elementary School District 2

Southwest DuPage School Recruitment Consortium

Serves the following districts:

*Benjamin School District 25
* West Chicago School District 33
* Winfield School District 34
* West Chicago Community High School District 94

North DuPage Elementary Partnership
Serves the following districts:
• Itasca School District #10
• Medinah School District #11
• Roselle School District #12
• Bloomingdale School District #13
• Keeneyville Elementary School District #20

Butler School District 53

Cass School District 63

Center Cass School District 66

Burr Ridge CCSD 180

Community Consolidated School District 93

Community High School District 99

Community Unit School District 200

Darien Public Schools District #61

Downers Grove Grade School District 58

DuPage High School District 88

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205

Fenton Community High School District 100

The Glenbard Elementary Consortium

Districts involved:

• Community Consolidated School District 89
• Glen Ellyn School District 41
• Lombard Elementary District 44
• Dupage School District 45

Glenbard Township High School District 87

Gower District 62

Hinsdale Township High School District 86

Indian Prairie School District 204

Lake Park HS Dist 108‏

Lisle Community Unit School District #202

Maercker School District 60

Marquardt School District 15‏

Hinsdale Community Consolidated School District 181

Naperville Community Unit School District 203

Queen Bee Schools, District 16

Salt Creek School District 48

Community Unit School District 201

Wood Dale School District #7

Woodridge Elementary School District 68


serving the following districts:
• Newark High School District 18
• Plano Community Unit School District 88
• Yorkville Community School District 115
• Gardner South Wilmington High School District 73
• Lisbon Community Consolidated School District 90
• Minooka High School District 111
• South Wilmington Grade School District 74
• Kendall County Special Education Cooperative
• Minooka CCSD #201
• Gardner CCSD 72C

Oswego Community Unit School District No. 308

Mattoon Community Unit School District #2


Kane County Regional Office of Education

Districts served:
• Aurora East SD 131
• Aurora West SD 129
• Batavia CUSD 101
• Burlington Central SD 301
• Community Unit District 300
• Geneva CUSD 304
• Kaneland CUSD 302
• School District U-46
• St. Charles CUSD 303


Bourbonnais Elementary School District No. 53

I-KAN Area Schools Application Consortium

serving the following districts:

Bradley School District #61
* Central CUSD #4
* Crescent-Iroquois CUSD #249
* Cissna Park CUSD #6
* Grant Park CUSD #6
* Herscher Community Unit School District 2
* Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education
* Iroquois County CUSD #9
* Iroquois West CUSD #10
* Kankakee School District 111
* Milford CUSD #233
* Milford CUSD #280
* Momence Community District #1
* Pembroke CCSD #259
* St. Anne Community High School
* St. Anne Grade School
* St. George CCSD #258
* Iroquois Special Education Association

Manteno Community Unit School District 5

Lake County Schools Consortium
Districts served:

* Bannockburn School District 106
* Big Hollow School District 38
* Community High School District 117
* Diamond Lake School District 76
* Grant Community High School District 124
* Grayslake Community Consolidated School District 46
* Oak Grove School District 68
* Warren Township High School District 121
* Wauconda Community Unit School District 118

Antioch School District 34

Aptakisic-Tripp School District #102

Barrington Community Unit School District 220

Beach Park School District #3

Community High School District 117

Community High School District 128

Deerfield Public Schools District 109

Fremont School District 79

Gavin School District

Grant Community High School District 124

Grayslake Community High School District 127

Gurnee School District 56

Hawthorn School District 73

Kildeer Countryside CCSD 96

Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65

Lake Forest School Districts 67 & 115

Lake Villa School District #41

Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95

Libertyville Elementary School District 70

Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103

Millburn C. C. School District #24

Mundelein Consolidated High School District 120

Mundelein Elementary School District #75

North Chicago Community Unit School District #187

North Shore School District 112

Rondout School District 72

Round Lake Area Schools District 116

Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125

Township High School District 113

Waukegan Community Unit District 60

Woodland School District 50

Zion Elementary School District 6

Zion-Benton Township High School District 126


Community Unit School District 2


Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education #47

Districts served (Lee):
• Amboy Community Unit School District 272
• Ashton-Franklin Center Community Unit School District 275
• Dixon Public Schools (officially Dixon Unit School District 170)
• Nelson Elementary School District 8
• Paw Paw Community Unit School District 271
• Steward Elementary School District 220
Byron Community Unit School District 226
• Creston Community Consolidated School District 161
• Eswood Community Consolidated District 269
• Forrestville Valley Community Unit School District 221
• Kings Consolidated School District 144
• Meridian Community Unit School District 223
• Oregon Community Unit School District 220
• Polo Community Unit School District 222
• Rochelle Community Consolidated School District 231
• Rochelle Township High School District 212


Dwight Common School District 232

Dwight Township High School District 230


Crystal Lake Community Consolidated School District #47

McHenry County Regional Office of Education

serving the following districts:
• Alden-Hebron District 19
* Cary Community Consolidated School District 26
* Crystal Lake Community High School District 155
* Fox River Grove School District 3
* Harrison School District 36
* Harvard Community Unit School District #50
* Huntley School District 158
* Johnsburg Community Unit School District #12
* Marengo Community High School District 154
* Marengo-Union Elementary Consolidated School District #165
* McHenry High School District 156
* McHenry School District 15
* Nippersink School District 2
* Prairie Grove School District 46
* Richmond-Burton Community High School District #157
* Riley Community Consolidated School Distritct 18
* Special Education District of McHenry County (SEDOM)
* Woodstock Community Unit School District 200

Crystal Lake Community Consolidated School District 47


Channahon School District 17

Crete-Monee School District 201U

Frankfort Community Consolidated School District 157C

Homer School District 33C

Joliet Public School District 86

Joliet Township High School District

Lincoln-Way District 210

Lockport Township High School District 205

Manhattan School District 114

Reed-Custer CUSD 255

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202

Summit Hill School District 161

Troy School District 30-C

Valley View School District 365U

Will County School District 92


Hononegah High School

Rockford Public School District #205


Freeport School District 145


Galapagos Charter School

Perspectives Charter Schools

Monday, March 29, 2010

Snodgrass's Muff

I was listening to AM radio 670, the Score, sports talk, and either Mulley or Hanley kept bringing up some coach named Muff McGraw. I decided to look up this guy, but my phone Google search led me to a bit of baseball history I did not know anything about, Snodgrass's Muff.

Snodgrass dropped a fly ball in the 10th inning of the deciding game of the 1912 World Series, and the Boston Red Sox scored two runs to take the pennant. Snodgrass went on to become mayor of Oxnard, CA, and lived a long life, but when he died, the NY Times obituary headline read, "Fred Snodgrass, 86, Dead; Ball Player Muffed 1912 Fly." It didn't help that the 1912 World Series loss was the second of three consecutive World Series appearances and losses. They were the Buffalo Bills of the Deadball-Era, and Snodgrass the Scott Norwood.

Here's the Wikipedia article about him.

And a couple of YouTube videos.

This first one is a short clip describing Snodgrass and the muff. Pretty straightforward stuff. You don't learn anything new from the Wikipedia story.

At about the 1:54 mark on this video a narrator describes Snodgrass's Muff ("Poor Fred"), but also includes a rare interview with Snodgrass in 1963, who describes Christy Matthewson and losing a teammate who was gassed in World War I. Fascinating stuff.

I've had a budding interest in the Deadball Era of Major League Baseball ever since I read Ring Lardner's You Know Me Al last fall. It depicts, in funny misspelled words and other malapropisms. Lardner was a Chicago reporter. Most of his works are easy to read and accessible to modern tastes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two new videos

This past weekend I was determined to fill up a 2GB memory card in my camera and took video of my son Jonny. We spent all day Saturday together and went for a hike Sunday afternoon. He's a real ham for the camera, but is impatient and wants to "see the video."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cool prog rock resource

As usual, I am the last person the planet to discover the following cool web site:

I have been spending 4-5 hours a day at the Illinois Worknet center in DeKalb applying for teaching jobs online. Their Internet filters do not allow Pandora, my first choice for Internet music, and other online radio stations. But the filter does allow podcasts. I spent the first few days trying to pay attention to people talking about winter backpacking trips while doing the many uploading and writing tasks associated with applying for jobs. This didn't work out too well. TMI (too much information)!

The Rogues' Gallery is almost all music, and when the host does talk to artists, he intersplices the interview with lots of tracks. It has been a wonderful, nay transcendent experience, while mired in the mundane tasks of job seeking, to enjoy aural prog rock stimulations on my headphones.

And the host, Franz, has been doing this podcast for SEVEN YEARS!! There are 331 podcasts and each is 2-4 hours long and downloadable to Windows media player. This is exhaustive. Franz has done a professional service for free to all fans of progressive rock. Thank you! Your work is greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 08, 2010

You got questions? I've got answers.

I thought it'd be fun, while in the midst of my job hunt, to share the application questions and answers I gave. If anyone has instructive feedback or would like to share their answers, please respond with a comment.

Please describe what you would do in your classroom or school setting to meet the needs of culturally and racially diverse student populations.

I would first meet the needs of a culturally and racially diverse student population by recognizing and working to overcome barriers of language and experience. I would choose texts that address diversity and engage students in authentic discussions, using open-ended questions to draw out connections between the texts and their lives. I would also design showcase projects that celebrate cultural and family heritage. Cultural and racial diversity provides a rich gold mine of teaching opportunities.

In every classroom there are many children at varying levels of ability. What instructional strategies would you use in order to prepare lessons and instruction to meet the needs of these children?

Communication is a major component of any instructional strategy to deal with children of varying levels of ability. The teacher needs to communicate with special education teachers, para-professionals, parents, and counselors, and know the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Modification of lessons should either provide assistance (such as post-it notes or underlining key passages in a required reading) or play to the student’s strengths (such as letting a kinetic learner “act out” a paper from an outline instead of submitting a written essay.) The key to modification is to try and communicate the original lesson, but in a way that students of varying abilities can grasp and retain.

Please describe how you would use technology to improve your effectiveness as an educator.

Effective use of technology in the classroom is a way to augment traditional lessons, ease communication, and streamline labor-intensive processes, like grading. I will use video and television programming to add to a literary discussion or to make a vivid scene in the book come alive. But I will never just show a video and not require feedback or analysis from the students. Rarely will entire movies be shown.

I would love to have an overhead projector that hooks up to my laptop. I would use Powerpoint to augment lessons and replace my poor handwriting. I would also use a word processing program to edit sentences and paragraphs, and use the “add comment” and “show changes” feature to edit papers.

If an online grading system is available, I will use it, keep it updated, and publicize its availability to parents in a formal letter and at conferences. Parents should be able to go to a web site and find a monthly plan for the class and a weekly schedule, including homework and due dates, as well as find out how their child is doing overall in the class and on specific assignments.

What are the three most important pieces of information you would like to know about your students, and how/why would this information impact your classroom instruction?

1. The most important information I will learn about my students will come from their writing. The first day of class they will do a free write. They can write about anything they want, but it has to be at least a half page long. From this I will learn what their interests are, but also their strengths and weaknesses as writers. This simple introductory lesson will tell me what common grammar and mechanical issues must be addressed first, and also lead me to research topics they bring up and compile a bibliography they can use in future research papers and essays.

2. Through class discussion, reading surveys, and guided writing assignments, I need to glean what kinds of movies and TV shows students watch, the lyrics of the songs they are listening to, and, of course, the books and magazines they read. This knowledge, when divulged by me, will allow me to appear hip, but more importantly allow the class to make extant and direct connections between their culture and classical and modern literature and poetry.

3. The third thing I will do is have the students fill out a learning styles survey. This will influence many classroom factors: seating, small-group assignments, differentiated instruction and evaluation techniques. I like focusing on learning styles because it builds on a student’s natural strengths and inclinations rather than pointing out deficiencies and coping strategies.

What is the purpose of assessment? When and how will you assess whether or not students are learning?

Assessment used to be a test of memorization. Rote knowledge, the minutia of facts and names, is ever so fleeting, and hardly necessary in the digital age. Assessment should test skill sets and critical thinking skills. For example, in teaching the writing process, students self-edit and edit the work of their peers. Not only is the teacher assessing the final work, but also the student’s assessment of their own and other’s work. Informal and formal assessments are built-in components of the writing process. Final essay drafts, group presentations, whole-class discussions, and, yes, even written tests, are used to assess knowledge of a lesson or unit. Often the most surprising and dramatic self-assessments occur when a student looks through their class portfolio and compares a rough draft to a final draft, or an essay written in May to one written the previous September.

What would you want a former student to share about what he/she learned in your class ten years after having left it?

If a former student were to come back 10 years later and share what she learned in my class, I would want her to tell the class that she learned how to write and communicate effectively and that she got A’s on all of the papers she wrote in college because she followed many of the writing and editing processes she learned in my class. I hope she tells the class that literature and poetry do have a connection to the real world and that analyzing these works will help them develop critical thinking skills and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the human condition.

Student success can be measured on an individual basis. Success can be seen in a frustrated learner who struggles, but eventually grasps a difficult text. Or success is found in a shy, but intelligent student, who musters up the courage to defend his or her view in a group discussion. Or it is in the student from a troubled home life who manages to make it to school on time and turn in his or her homework.

What are your three most important reasons for wanting to be a teacher/educator?

1. Teaching involves being an active and giving participant in the community. In my previous career as a newspaper reporter, I had to be truthful, accurate, and find out information that the public needed to know. As a teacher, I have a greater responsibility helping students find out information on their own and interpret what they find.

2. Teaching is fun. Planning and presenting lessons, and fostering a creative environment for students to learn lets me be creative in profound and surprising ways. More importantly, I help foster student creativity and give them the tools and guidance to hone their skills. No two days are ever the same. Even repeated readings of the same text bring new insights. Students never fail to surprise me with their insight and energy.

3. Teaching is a natural byproduct of an academic lifestyle. I have read a lot of books and written scores of articles and papers. I have expert knowledge to share based on a lifetime of experiences.

How much do you want to know about your students to be most helpful to them?

I am constantly looking for ways to make the lessons I plan relevant and interesting to my students. To do this, I listen to their conversations before class, ask about the books I see them carrying, and even ask to look at I-pod play lists. I’ve discovered that if I can reference what we are studying in class to what they are interested in, this strong connection helps reinforce content knowledge they need to know.

What three things do you most want to know about your students?

1. The most important information I will learn about my students will come from their writing. The first day of class they will do a free write. They can write about anything they want, but it has to be at least a half page long. From this I will learn what their interests are, but also their strengths and weaknesses as writers. This simple introductory lesson will tell me what common grammar and mechanical issues must be addressed first, and also lead me to research topics they bring up and compile a bibliography they can use in future research papers and essays.

2. Through class discussion, reading surveys, and guided writing assignments, I need to glean what kinds of movies and TV shows students watch, the lyrics of the songs they are listening to, and, of course, the books and magazines they read. This knowledge, when divulged by me, will allow me to appear hip, but more importantly allow the class to make extant and direct connections between their culture and classical and modern literature and poetry.

3. The third thing I will do is have the students fill out a learning styles survey. This will influence many classroom factors: seating, small-group assignments, differentiated instruction and evaluation techniques. I like focusing on learning styles because it builds on a student’s natural strengths and inclinations rather than pointing out deficiencies and coping strategies.

What do you need to know in order to begin your lesson planning for a class or group?

Before I begin a lesson or unit plan, I need to know what the learning goals are and how they fit into the departmental and school plan, and what state learning standards I wish to address. Next, I need to know students’ knowledge base and experience with the skills needed and activities we may do in the lesson. This can be accomplished through a formal survey and in-class discussions. I then need to research all related topics to be covered in the lesson, including how other teachers in the school and elsewhere have taught the material. With supplementary and primary materials in tow, I can then begin to plan the lesson or unit plan.

What four key components do you believe you must include in your plan?

Four key components I must include in a unit or lesson plan are a statement of purpose, writing activity, small or large group activity, and reading comprehension activity. The statement of purpose is a way to let the students know why we are doing the lesson and the educational goals that need to be achieved. Nearly every writing activity follows a multi-step process, including multiple drafts, peer editing, and one-on-one tutoring with the teacher. Most writing is included in the student’s class portfolio. I always include a group activity into my lessons, but clearly delineate tasks individually to ensure all students participate. Reading comprehension activities include vocabulary exercises, whole-class editing and discussion of sample sentences and paragraphs, and relating supplementary materials to the main text.

When you think about your students, in what major ways do you most want to influence their lives?

I want to help my students become better readers and writers, develop critical thinking skills, and give them an outlet for creative expression.

What two core teaching/learning strategies do you most use to achieve this result?

One core teaching strategy that I use is a strong emphasis on the writing process. Every writing assignment goes through many drafts. Keeping a portfolio of student work in the classroom also gives students a tangible means to track their progress. Another teaching strategy I use is individual and small group presentations. Students own their own learning when they teach their classmates.

Please describe your philosophy of education.

As an educator, I believe I am a facilitator of knowledge. Experience has shown that a lecture-based, passive-learning teaching style is not effective in the 21st century. Instead, I try to design lessons that help students find knowledge on their own. I am a friendly guide, marking signposts along the way, sometimes leading the way, but giving students enough freedom and latitude to choose their own paths.

Describe any skills or job experiences that contribute to your qualifications for the specific position for which you are applying.

Direct job experiences related to my application include student teaching as a 7th grade language arts teacher at Huntley Middle School, DeKalb, IL, fall 2007. I also completed a long-term (9 weeks) assignment as a 6th grade language arts teacher at West Middle School, Rockford, IL, from January to March 2004. Indirectly related job experiences include almost 4 years experience as a reporter and editor at three daily newspapers.

Describe how do you actively engage middle school students in the language arts classroom.

The first thing I do to engage middle school students in my language arts classroom is to meet them outside the door each day and greet them as they enter. This helps me get a gauge of their moods and quell problems before they escalate. Each class begins with a preparatory warm-up activity, such as a daily oral language exercise or journaling.

Student participation is required. In past classes, I called on students randomly using two cans and popsicle sticks with their names on it. This method ensures all students participate in discussion and its random nature keeps students from feeling they are being "picked on."

I also strive to keep my room visually appealing, with class rules clearly posted and as much student-created visual art as I can find room for.

Describe how you promote critical thinking in your classroom.

Thanks to my previous profession as a newspaper reporter, I have learned how to ask open-ended questions and try to engage students in authentic discussions, where they examine facts and details and draw their own conclusions. I try to avoid initiation-response-evaluation (IRE) types of evaluations and leave fact-finding to group or individual activities. Rarely do I accept a student's initial answer, but ask for more explanation with follow-up questions.

How you reach and engage struggling middle school readers?

I have used many methods to reach and engage struggling middle school readers, including cloze, context clues, chunking, and summarizing. This helps struggling readers grasp difficult texts.

Another way to engage struggling readers is to find out what they like to read, watch on television, and play in video games, and find school and age-appropriate related readings to foster even more reading. Comic books, graphic novels, and popular young adult fiction contribute to higher level reading comprehension that can be applied later to more difficult canonical texts.

Describe the skills or attributes you believe are necessary to be an outstanding teacher.

An outstanding teacher has to be a good listener, be prepared for whatever situations may arise, be alert to what each individual student's needs are, and be creative to make the lessons interesting and engaging to the students. In addition to developing an expert knowledge of the subject area, outstanding teachers share their enthusiasm and natural curiosity for the subject matter. Strong interest is contagious.

Classroom management is also key to outstanding teaching success. An organized classroom promotes an attitude of professionalism that the students notice. Quick turnaround and thoughtful feedback on grades also lets students know how professional the teacher is and respects the effort students put into the work.

How would you address a wide range of skills in your classroom?

Assessment tests are effective tools to help teachers adapt to individual and whole class instructional needs. Close analysis of assessment and other tests helps me discover problem areas to build lessons around. Lessons can also be adapted for individual students based on this feedback. Assessment is always ongoing, from one assignment to the next. Once problems are identified, lessons can be modified, discreetly, so as not to stigmatize the student, to help with specific problem areas.

Describe your teaching style.

My teaching style focuses on student-centered learning. I try not to ever speak for more than 10 minutes without student feedback. I believe in fostering authentic discussion by asking open-ended questions and ask follow-up questions to clarify student responses. Small and large group discussion will be a regular component of my classroom. Students will also give presentations and participate in daily oral language drills. A random observer will most likely find me in the classroom listening to student presentations are mingling around the room facilitating small group and individual activities.

I use assessment tools to tailor my lessons to class and individual needs. Units will be designed to cover all aspects of school and departmental curriculum guidelines.

Grades will be kept up to the minute. If an online grading system is available, ideally parents should be able to check their child's grades daily and know it is current. Attentiveness to classroom management tasks, including posting behavioral expectations and following through on a behavioral plan of action, provides a stable, calm environment ripe for learning.

How do you measure student success?

Student success can be measured on an individual basis. Success can be seen in a frustrated learner who struggles, but eventually grasps a difficult text. Or success is found in a shy, but intelligent student, who musters up the courage to defend his or her view in a group discussion. Or it is in the student from a troubled home life who manages to make it to school on time and turn in his or her homework.

Student success is measured most objectively in test scores, but most other measures of success do not fit on a pie chart. While ongoing assessment is crucial to obtaining objective measures of student success, individual victories will eventually bring those numbers in line.

Why did you choose teaching as a career?

A love of language and learning are the primary reasons I have decided to become a teacher. Two aunts are educators, and their exciting tales of the profession also motivated me to consider education as a career. When I was a sports editor at the Antigo Daily Journal in the late 1990s, I covered all high school sports. This was my first adult exposure to secondary education and adolescence. I discovered then I have a natural rapport with school-age children and love being in an academic environment.

My experiences as a substitute teacher, clinical observer, and student teacher have helped hone my pedagogical and classroom management skills, but an innate love, curiosity, and ehthusiasm for the subject matter remains my greatest strength. Fostering that enthusiasm and then seeing what students discover on their own -- the illuminating moments of gained knowledge -- are the reasons I chose teaching as a career.

Describe how you have differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students in your classroom in your prior experience or student teaching. Provide specific examples.

I will provide three examples of differentiated instruction I have used in the classroom over the course of the current school year.

Post-it Notes and underlining -- Students who have a problem with reading comprehension get Post It notes attached or segments underlined to their assigned reading to bring extra focus on the main ideas.

Required tutoring -- A tutoring service is available at my school. For larger writing assignments, I require many of my struggling writers to visit the tutor and show a signed paper along with a written summary explaining what they did with the tutor.

Test help -- While students are all required to take the same test, I will let some students take the test home or allow them to have open notes while taking it.

Describe your career goals five years from now.

In five years, I plan to continue teaching English, language arts, or social studies. By this time, I will be involved in coaching baseball or tennis and leading a filmmaking or writer's workshop after school. I may also be in charge of an award-winning student newspaper or yearbook. Unit plans and lessons will be built on prior successes and I will have a huge filing cabinet full of lesson plans and related materials.


My most outstanding attribute as an educator is that I embrace technology as a tool to further educational goals. During this past school year I have using wiki pages to foster in-lab discussions and posted lesson plans and all related documents on a blog page ( DVD’s of student-created videos are available upon request.

What do you want to accomplish as a teacher?

First and foremost, as a language arts teacher, I want to promote reading and writing, stressing their importance in future careers by tailoring lessons to real-world applications. I want students to come away from my classes with the skills necessary to function in an increasingly syntax-oriented society. Activities I've successfully implemented in my language arts classes already include filling out mock job applications, conducting interviews, writing letters to the editor, and using Windows Movie Maker to create public service announcements. Integrating technology into the curriculum and making the teaching content relevant to student interests also helps them connect to literature, grammar, and other "canonical" aspects of language arts. More importantly, this type of curriculum development prepares students to use language arts skills beyond the classroom.

How will (do) you go about finding out about students attitudes and feelings about your class?

I find out student's attitudes about my class by greeting them at the door when they come in and asking them how they are doing on particular assignments. When I design a writing lesson, I often integrate individual conferencing into the curriculum. It is during this one on one interaction that students share their ideas and opinions about the assignment and the class. In addition to making one on one interaction a key component of the curriculum, I will sometimes gauge attitudes and experiences on an assignment by moderating whole-class discussion. This helps air common problems and complaints students may have.

Please explain how your past personal and professional experience make you a quality candidate for the position for which you are applying.

Past personal and professional experiences that make me an ideal candidate for the positions I am applying for include four years employment as a daily newspaper reporter. This experience required me to collect and interpret information for public consumption, and interview public and private figures each day. More importantly, this prior career experience was a job that required me to uphold the public trust.

Becoming a teacher has allowed me to use my editorial and research skills to help students become better readers and writers. The reason I continue to seek out a teaching career is I have enjoyed seeing students show marked, tangible improvements in their writing and reading comprehension skills. I’ve also enjoyed accessing new and existing technologies, such as Powerpoint and Windows Movie Maker, to augment class instruction.

What personal characteristics do you bring to this position?

Enthusiasm is the most important personal characteristic I bring to teaching. I am very interested in helping students achieve their academic goals and give them individual attention to help them succeed. Another personal characteristic I bring to teaching is a sense of wonder. When a student writes about or discusses a topic that is unfamiliar to me, I will use all my powers of research and inquiry to learn about the topic. Teaching involves an exchange of information between student and teacher. In the best teaching experiences, everybody learns.

Describe your knowledge and experience in working in an educational setting. (This was used on an application to Rock Valley College, hence the mention of the school’s newspaper in the first sentence).

After a career in journalism that began as a reporter and columnist for The Valley Forge, I returned to graduate school at Northern Illinois University in 2005. As a graduate assistant, I taught three sections of first-year composition and worked as a tutor at the university’s writing center. After earning my master’s degree in English, I taught freshmen English at Elgin High School, Elgin, IL, and language arts at Canton Middle School, Streamwood, IL, in a split-school assignment during the 2008-09 academic year. Most recently, I have been a substitute teacher for DeKalb Community School District 428.