Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teaching in an atmosphere of excellence:

As I attended the Highland Park ISD School Board meeting tonight in Amarillo, Texas it revealed a view of a slightly opened window ready to be completely raised in the very near future. I have no doubt that the path Highland Park is currently on is breathing life of excellence and opportunity for the student's and staff.

Tonight I became immediately aware of something I have been seeing for the past number of years, and that is a taste of opportunity and challenges for the student's who are realizing their dreams that education, hard work and determination can provide. To highlight a few of these items:

• Quinlin McGregor, Class of 2013, won THREE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP titles in track and signed a letter of intent with a full-ride scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University.

• Lance Mullens, Class of 2013, was awarded the Gates Melinium Scholarship one of 1,000 awarded exceeding $50,000 for his future education. Over 58,000 applications were submitted to apply for the award.

• We are honored to have FOUR CLASS of 2013 SENIORS, Lance Mullens, William Brooks, Myles Smith & BreAnn Hobbs receive their Dual Degrees from both High School and Amarillo College within a week of each other.
• The Ag & FFA department under the direction of Mrs. Crystal Stewart has seen great successes in livestock and other affiliated competitions turning the heads of many of the schools across the state also providing for Full-Ride scholarships to some participating students.

• This week I was pleased to be contacted by the Texas A&M University System in conjunction with the Texas Education Agency requesting to host 15 of my YouTube Science videos on their PACT website to assist new teacher's across Texas with resources for lesson planning and hands on education.

There are truly too many things to recall from memory that were presented today, it was impossible get all of them down, I should have brought a note pad. It was difficult to avoid feeling the  energy in the air of the great things that are happening in Highland Park. I am so eager for the future of the students, there is truly a quickly rising feeling of internal motivation rising up in the students and staff. If Highland Park is not currently on the radar of the educational system in the state, it very quickly will be. In my past ten years of teaching, I have yet to see the energy and dedication that is rising up in our district. 

Great things are on the horizon and I am truly honored and blessed to be in such a time and place as this. The demands on education and students have never been greater, and yet we are rising quickly to meet the challenges that are presented. I believe if this generation could learn the lessons of the past in our country that perseverance, hard work, dedication, responsibility and meeting demanding challenges are embraced we are in for a new frontier of greatness to sweep our country.

What motivates the spirit within us is not the lack of our ambition or the minimal amount of effort, but rather the joy that comes with a challenge that is met with determination and sacrifice to see the efforts of  a job well done or attempted. Even in those attempted works of motivation when the expectation is not quite met and failure seems to be the outcome, we have learned from our mistakes and grown from them, this concept develops within us "wisdom". There is something about what has always made America great, and there continues to be signs in our youth and this generation that continues to give me great hope.

What an awesome night of excellence for our students and staff.

Michael Hayes


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Friday, May 10, 2013

The Video Lesson that Started it All

Looking Back and Moving Ahead

How taking a small idea has changed the way I will forever teach...

I have been waiting for the right moment to actually begin a "blog" to accompany my already existing YouTube, Facebook & Twitter Accounts and today is the day for a few reasons. There are a few things developing behind the scenes that I will be sharing in the future, but the biggest reason is because I want a place to post blogs and updates as these developments take place and to encourage other educators to pursue their passion of teaching in a new way to better facilitate the learning of today's tech savvy students.

Here is a little bit about my background as I begin diving into this first of many blogs to come.
I never imagined I would be a teacher, and yet with ten years in the classroom I am more passionate then ever being a mentor and teacher of today's students. I love what I do, and the technological opportunities available to today's teacher's, if embraced correctly, can breath new life into the teaching profession and spur the minds of today's students in a great and positive way.

To be honest, I never had a desire to be an educator or even attend post secondary education. My only goal in junior high and high school was to "GET OUT"!

I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the late 1970's when very few schools, administrators or teachers were even aware of how or what the learning disability was, let alone how to serve students struggling with the reading and comprehension issues that accompany the diagnosis. At that time my parent's were unable to find resources in the school district I was attending to facilitate student's with dyslexia. They chose to move to a small town about fifteen miles outside of the city to a 1A school district in the hopes of having a smaller school environment that could better work with the challenges I was facing. As the year's progressed my desire to read and keep up with my peers faded and the challenges I faced in the classroom were soon dismissed and I was labeled as lazy and inattentive. In short, I did what I needed to do to "pass" and move from grade to grade, nothing more. The only motivation I had was to graduate and put any further educational ambitions in my rear view mirror as my ambitions were squelched.

It wasn't until a very early marriage at the age of 19 and a new lifestyle of poverty with very little opportunity that led me to go "BACK TO SCHOOL". As I pondered this option, I reflected upon my High School days to consider what avenue to take. The only class that I looked forward to was my Journalism classes where I excelled in photography, cartooning, reporting and writing. I remained attentive and developed a range of talents through the guidance of my teacher. She provided me with a freedom to develop a passion she saw in me and I excelled in the three years I was on staff. I enrolled in Texas State Technical College and received my associate's degree in Commercial Art and Advertising two years later. Immediately I landed a job designing and painting billboards for a local outdoor advertising company. My career journey moved me into computer graphic design for a local food retailer and eventually starting my own small advertising agency for seven years. A loss of a large client to my firm as well as ever evolving technology quickly changed the dynamics of my business. I chose to once again "GO BACK TO SCHOOL", this time if I was going back, I was going to make it BIG, I wanted to get a Medical Degree as an Orthopedic Pediatrician in the hopes of providing surgical relief to children in poverty in the United States as well as children in third world countries.

As I enrolled in West Texas A&M University, I was on my way and competing at the top of my class with other pre-med undergraduates to insure a GPA high enough to apply to Medical School. As my senior year at WTAMU approached, I had to face a different reality. I had to sell my business at a tremendous loss and ended up with an overhanging loan that would take the next three years to pay off. I approached the Education Department at WTAMU, my thought was I have a TON of Science classes under my belt, would it be possible for me to graduate on time and receive a teaching certificate. After looking at my remaining credits to graduate everything fit like a puzzle, I could fulfill the education requirements with remaining elective credits and still receive my degree in Biology. Truly an unexpected blessing as teaching quickly turned into my PASSION and I am honored to be a teacher.

So the follow up to this mini-autobiography, my biggest challenge in teaching over the past ten years has been how to reach the student's who were like me in school. How do I make a positive difference in the future of student's who have learning disabilities, how can I provide the help needed by at-risk students, how can I get students' to see a better future for themselves, how can I instill a love of learning to those who have no ambition or aspersions in life? What does it take to effect generations of students who want everything NOW without the work ethic needed to insure their success? What does it take to provide a bigger window of the world to student's who's own family is in poverty or are in horrible home situations that are beyond the imagination? How do I catch up student's who have HUGE gaps in their learning or have been moving in and out of different school districts all of their life?

I have been seeking the magic remedy since I started my teaching career only to find the best advice of other colleagues, administrators and professional development workshops and trainings could never provide me the level of intervention I was seeking. The solution came on August 31, 2011 with my first YouTube video to assist student's in learning lab equipment without having the equipment at home (featured above this blog). I thought I was just helping my student's until a comment on my video posted from an educator in Costa Rica who utilized my video to assist Spanish speaking lab technicians with the correct English terms of the equipment. The ball was rolling and I had no idea what would evolve from this point forward.

(To be continued...)

Michael Hayes

Please continue to check back on my blog installments as I will follow up the discussion of the evolution of "The Expanded Classroom"