On becoming a teacher


Like trying to haul a net full of water across the room’

The following excerpt is from “Emerging Species,” Woodrow Wilson Fellow Keith Manring’s thought-provoking, humorous
blog about the veteran journalist’s path to becoming a teacher.

Strong chemistry-September 1, 2009

My travels are taking me to new schools now and that’s always exciting.

This morning I visited a magnet school in the city and I have to say it was great. This was a small class of middle-schoolers studying chemistry. What made it so intriguing was the way this teacher managed the students and worked to make sure they were all learning.

A lesson on precision and accuracy (as someone who once worked with large cannons, this is always a conversation I love) was taught three different ways in the space of a few minutes: students read it, the teacher used four students to act it out, and then students actually tried it out for themselves, shooting baskets with wadded-up paper at trashcans.

They collected data on their shots and had to determine whether they themselves were precise (no one that I saw) and/or accurate (there was more promise on this front).

Soon after that it was on to significant figures and even I understood the concept after a few moments. The teacher used mnemonics and other devices to help students learn the rules—this seemed to be a teacher who was not dumbing anything down, but was teaching so that all the students could understand and learn.

And this same teacher took the time—after the class finished a quiz at the start of the period—to find out who had seen the Lil Wayne concert over the weekend and who sang at church.

Who wouldn’t want to be in a class where you knew the teacher cared about you and you could feel yourself learning, not floundering?

—Keith Manring

Read more at his blog, Emerging Species

Head of her class

Dr. Kathryn A. Moran, dean of the School of Education, has been named president of the Indiana Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

IACTE helps shape public policy affecting schools and preparation of teachers in Indiana. Moran has been a key voice on state proposals to restructure teacher education. She serves on the Minority Teacher Pipeline Committee and Teacher Education Committee of the Department of Education’s Office of Educator Licensing and Development.

Moran has served as the accreditation coordinator for the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs and has taught courses in educational psychology emphasizing cognitive theories of learning, her academic specialty.

Moran has a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Louis University, a master’s in educational administration from State University of New York at Albany, and a PhD in educational psychology from SUNY at Buffalo.

Grocer puts stock in teaching

Two years ago, Al Pickett took his 30 years of experience in the retail grocery business and his fresh master’s degree from UIndy and started a new career as a high school business teacher.

His courage in embarking on a new chapter of his life, and his success in taking his knowledge and experience into the classroom, have earned him a Second-Half Champion award from Wells Fargo Advisors.

Pickett enrolled in UIndy’s Master of Arts in Teaching program at age 58.

He’s just completed his second year of full-time employment at Franklin Community High School, where he teaches two units of economics in addition to courses on business foundations, personal finance, and advanced computer applications.

What’s most challenging about his new career? Reaching individuals at various levels of preparedness, he says, while keeping the attention and interest of a diverse student population.

When Pickett discovered special-needs students struggling with computer applications, he developed lessons that were rigorous but provided more one-on-one time and were better suited for individual learning needs. He enjoys integrating real-world examples and current events with lessons requiring students to engage in independent research and develop their own alternatives to local and global problems.

He credits UIndy’s School of Education with emphasizing the importance of adapting to a variety of student learning styles.

Married to a middle school humanities teacher, the basketball, volleyball, and softball official plans to complete two online courses this summer to obtain an endorsement for teaching vocational-technical courses.

“If lifelong learning and sharing your knowledge is a passion, I’d advise anyone thinking about teaching to go for it,” Pickett says. “I wish I had done it 30 years ago.”

Herzlichen Glückwunsch

In English, we’d probably just say “Congratulations.” Joshua Payne, UIndy Class of 2001, was named German Teacher of the Year at the recent conference of the Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association. Payne, who earned his bachelor of arts in teaching from UIndy, has taught since 2006 at Cathedral High School.