Name: Al Lang
Bio: I am a 7th grade science teacher at Armstrong school, a large elementary school on Chicago’s north side. This is only the second school I have worked in, and I enjoy every day there.
Your twitter handle: @Lang_Al54
Your website address: http://travelking54.weebly.com/
Your favorite quote related to teaching/learning: “ Education is the movement from darkness to light”-. Allan Bloom
Book Recommendation: Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World's Most Creative People- by Robert S. and Michele Root-Bernstein
Sometimes I think this book is the greatest gift I got from the Wipro MSUrbanSTEM program. It was an unexpected addition to my life. The book simply details creative habits of successful people from many walks of life. I find it more a reference book to get my students thinking like geniuses and not just a story about their success. What I find most interesting is the way people make connections. In particular by using models. I do a lot of this with 7th grade students, and I can see why it is important for them to work, not work, and be improved upon.
- Taking each in turn. Looking back.
My road to teaching was strange. I was a college dropout in my twenties, Successful in business by thirty, and an old guy in class when I was pushing forty. I was in the travel industry for many years, working for tour operators, and hotel companies. I was happy, but unfulfilled. A lucky deal came along, which allowed me to change careers. I decided to go to graduate school and study teaching. It made perfect sense to me. I always hated school but loved education so maybe I could help others like myself. Fast forward 12 years, and I’m loving what I do. I get to learn science everyday. I understand many things I had only committed to memory when I was younger. Best of all I have many friends who share my commitment to inspiring adolescents to succeed.
2. Where I am now?
When I was told this past July I would need to create and complete a project as one of the requirements for the MSUrbanSTEM program In many ways, I always felt as though my ImagineIT project would never be complete or correct. I always felt like an impostor when I discussed my “albatross” as it seemed to be. Thanks to some patient instructors, and my drive to make what I do golden, I kept at it. I realize that no really good project is ever complete. It should stay a work in progress. The goal of a good project is to stay relevant. Not unlike my project, I have been changing as well. I realize I was a bore most of the time in the classroom. I hate being boring. This year my goal is to be dazzling every day, and to keep it up for the rest of my career.
3. Looking forward.
Moving forward, I am secure in my new and improved teaching practices. My current students are moving along nicely. My previous students visit and question constantly. Even my administrators are starting to take notice. I am getting really good at differentiating in Google classroom.
The beauty of this is that it ties to the heart of my project. Instead of forcing my hand, making the students do what I want, I have given up the role of boss, and moved on to guiding their learning. I spend very little teacher time with them, and much more time facilitating success. In many ways this has made my life easier. I don’t have to discipline often and my students are developing a good work ethic. Friday we were working on a complicated bit of learning, and it was so quiet you would have thought something was wrong, It was just the sound of thirty people working.
Moving forward, I will stay the course and complete the school year. My ImagineIT project will continue to evolve. It is best as a work in progress. I would like to see it spread to other grade levels. I will need to subtly guide it forward. For my current students it is what they demand. I don’t see them going back to paper and pencil next year. For others, I want them to start earlier learning tech tools, to save time. I want to get a group of middle school teachers working with me to push this process forward.
4. Summing up.
This I believe… Live the life you love, and love the life you live. Like I always know, the future is now.