Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Signing on...

For nearly three years this one word has been written on a sticky on my desktop.  Well, at long last, I’m taking my final few days of summer “furlough” (a fancy word for the thee weeks that I am not working between summer school and my August return) to get this whole deal off the ground. 

My goals in this first post are:
1. Explain why I want to start this blog
2. Explain who I am and where I’m coming from. 

1.  I feel like this is an important endeavor because teaching (especially at my school) can be a solitary and isolating experience. There are many times both in my classroom and within the larger world of education that I have felt silenced and without a voice.  I see writing as a means of grabbing a voice and, whether anyone reads this or not, it’s important for me to put it out there. 

I started seeking out and reading edublogs when I was student teaching in rural Vermont almost four years ago as a way to prepare myself for my impending move to the world of urban schools. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular… maybe some suggestions on finding a job and what to expect once I got here.  I found everything from reflections on politics and policy to musings on lesson plans and innovative pedagogies to rants and raves.  My goal with Philly Teacher Man is to cover all of those in one way or another. 

2.  Now on to who I am.  I’m a high school English teacher in Philadelphia and have been for the last four years.  I work at what we in SDP refer to as an “alternative school” but what others may know as a transfer school, re-engagement program, or any of a number of other things.  Basically, my school serves students who are 16-21, have left (dropped out… though I dislike the term) traditional school for at least 6-moths, and choose to return to get their diploma.  In short, my students are “over-aged and under-credited”. I teach all four levels of English and am constantly trying to find new ways to engage and serve my students. 

I am a “traditional route” teacher... meaning I completed my undergrad in English Lit. followed by a semester of student teaching under an incredible master teacher. I went to undergrad at a small college in rural Vermont, but knew that I wanted to teach in an urban district as I feel the dynamic environment forces me to bring my A game.  Recently, I finished my Masters in Urban Education which has opened my eyes to much of the policy and context that comes with working in a city school district.   

Finally, the title of the blog. As I’m sure many teachers may already know, it comes from Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man… a memoir that I feel should be required reading for all teachers and anyone trying to influence education in any way.  
If I can channel any bit of his brilliance in my writing here, I'll be a lucky guy.

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