Being selected for Kenan Fellows has definitely changed how I look at my classroom on a regular basis. There has been exposure to different types of teaching skills as well as the desire to open my students to learning. The creation of the Sugar Shack in my Personal Finance class was the activity that has enlightened me this year. I was amazed by my ability to spend a month at Central Electric learning about the ins and outs of an electric cooperative then parlay it into a relevant lesson in the classroom. After lengthy discussions with the class about what I actually did over the summer it was a lot of fun watching them work through the challenges of setting up a candy cooperative. I believe the “ah-ha”moment occurred when the class discovered that while in their respected positions in Sugar Shack they mirrored the responsibilities of Central Electric’s employees. I noticed that as time passed and the candy cooperative continued, my students became more enthusiastic about the project. There were days when they came in and showed excitement about running the organization and even as the project was coming to an end, they requested to extend it. I believe that they discovered that the more effort you put in the project the more excited the student body became about it.
The professional development I was exposed to during this school year by Kenan has been a factor t that has changed the dynamic in my classrooms. I have turned my rooms from areas where I did the teaching to an environment where I have allowed their curiosity to lead the lessons. The excitement that they feel on certain objective has made my teaching day less stressful and more enjoyable for them. Even though the school year is coming to an end I believe that as time passes I will become an even more improved teacher and my students will thrive and succeed for it! I highly recommend to all teachers in North Carolina to apply for a fellowship with Kenan if the opportunity is available. It is life-changing!
This school year has definitely been challenging at best! This school starting at the end of August and then immediately afterwards we had Labor Day and then Hurricane Florence. We were out of school for a week and it feels as if we started the school year from the beginning once we returned. It was necessary to reteach rules and classroom procedures with my students. It feels as if we are getting into a routine again and I have introduced my Kenan project idea to the Business class. They are enthusiastic and I am excited to get it launched.
During Summer Institute there was a presentation dealing with Project Based Learning. My curiosity was peaked in exposing this technique to my classes. In prior school year’s I have occasionally had some challenges in keeping my student’s attention during certain lessons. I realized that collaboration as well as kinetic activities result in more positive results. Many of my lessons now have a project connected to the objectives and I see that my students have better understanding of the content by working together after I have presented the curriculum. An additional reason I chose this direction deals with the need for my students to stay active throughout the class period.
My students are really enjoying having projects incorporated in their lessons. They have expressed to me that they really enjoy having other options to learning than the standard lecture, powerpoint, and study guides. I also believe that there is a higher level of comprehension when my students talk among each other on the curriculum. I have found that a teenager explaining to another teenager is done in “their language”. What I am trying to say is sometimes we as teachers speak on a level “higher” than our students unknowingly. My kids are able to discuss in “their language” my same content. I also see a sense of accomplishment as well as pride when my students present their projects. From a teacher’s perspective I am so proud of my students because they are taking responsibility for their learning. There is less confrontation when it comes to completing assignments because I am also allowing them to express their creativity as well as work with their friends. Behavior has improved due to this flexibility and I am receiving assignments on or near the due dates. I believe it is a win-win situation!
In working with Central Electric the past three weeks I have had exposure to multiple departments in the company. I have spent time shadowing Marketing, Billing/Accounting, Warehousing, Purchasing, Plant Accounting, Community Programs and Services, IT, Customer Service, HR, and Engineering. All of the activities I have observed will be transformed into lessons in my classroom this upcoming school year. I believe I will be able to explain exactly what an electric cooperative is as well as the many departments that have career opportunities for my students. I have had the privilege of spending time with enthusiastic employees of the cooperative that have shown me how their cohesiveness has established a business that has succeeded for the past 75 years. Explanations have been presented during these few weeks that have explained what is electricity, where does it come from, how is it distributed to its members, what materials are needed to create electrical lines and connections, and how the members and contractors are billed. The knowledge I have obtained will allow me to create enlightening lessons dealing with career opportunities as well as lessons dealing with the finances of a business. There has been information that I will also be able to present to my students for different activities as well as employees who have volunteered to come to my classroom to explain their jobs as well as demonstrate their daily responsibilities. I believe this will be beneficial in exposing my students to potential career opportunities to which they may not have been previously exposed.
Some challenges I feel I may experience are my students may feel as if they are not eligible for some of the careers I will be introducing. I will introduce educational opportunities at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC that may open doors in the electrical engineering field. This is a community college that is 1 ½ hours east of Sanford but completion of the program can present employment chances for the graduates. In addition, I feel there may be challenges sue to the fact that I am business teacher presenting information dealing with the electrical field which is science-based but I will create lessons that will allow me to be a cross-curricular educator.
Today was our first day out of the office-ROAD TRIP!! I was advised that we would be traveling to Lee, Chatham, Harnett, and Moore County substations. Every evening as the sun sets, we take for granted the “flick of the switch” to illuminate our homes. But how exactly does that happen? Today Eddie Oldham escorted me all over Lee, Chatham, Harnett, and Moore counties to explain exactly how this process works. Little did I know that Central Electric does not make their own electricity. They actually purchase it from Duke Energy and then provide the electric service to their members of the cooperative. The power is then sent to substations and distributed throughout their service areas. Through an intricate maze of transformers, wires, breakers, and meters the service is provided. Electricity is definitely not something to play with. The voltage that is transmitted through those wires is enough to kill you! From these electrical poles are many different safeguards to not only protect the linemen but there are systems in place that protect against large scale outages as well. Central Electric lines have power distributed through three lines (each pole is connected to a breaker box) to stop the flow of electricity in case of an emergency. The day was filled with valuable information such as the difference between above ground and underground electric service, residential and commercial services, as well as learning about the parts that are used in wiring transformers, telephone poles, and wiring required to provide services to homes and businesses in the service area. Today was filled with many topics that were not familiar however I really enjoyed the information I received today and look forward to the additional knowledge I will be gaining.
The week I spent in Cullowhee was one of enlightenment for me. I have been teaching for 8 years in North Carolina and the Summer Institute by far has been one of the best Professional Development events I have ever attended. There were 24 other forward-thinking and motivated educators in a room together (the 2018-2019 Kenan Fellows). My brain felt it was in overdrive as I sat and discussed my ideas as well as listening to the amazing ideas of educators from around the state. There were sessions which discussed how to make a more rigorous lesson for my students, how to set up digital portfolios, branding myself as an educator, and how to use project-based learning in my classroom.
Upon returning home from Summer Institute I felt a renewed sense of excitement to return to the classroom. I will be revamping my lesson plans using the KFP Lesson plan template as well as using information that was presented in different sessions throughout the week. One of the most significant activities from the week was Digital Literacy as well as the Digital Portfolio presentations. These activities will definitely be beneficial throughout my school year.
Additionally the importance of “branding” myself as an educator was something of importance that was presented by Mark. It is an important factor to be incorporated in the future of my career.
Day One-what can I say? Excitement, nervousness, joy, anticipation, relief! All emotions I am feeling as it comes to an end. My professional possibilities are limitless as I sit here and reflect as well as anticipate what being part of the Kenan Fellows partnership will be like. Kenan Fellows selected me for a year-long Fellowship and one component is a three-week internship starting in July with Central Electric. I cannot wait to share all I learn at BSA, in Lee County, and hopefully beyond. Cullowhee is beautiful and will develop my mind and spirit as I enter my next stage in becoming a more profound educator here in NC. Thank you Kenan Fellows and CEMC!