Teacher of the Year Application

I was selected to represent my school at my districts Teacher of the Year competition, here is my letter of introduction. My interview is on Thursday.

I love history, from the broad historical trends that have shaped the various regions of the world to the personal first hand stories of struggles and triumph. History defines who we are as a nation and gives insight to the roots of our conflicts. For me, those connections are natural. I am intrinsically fascinated by history and the lessons that we can take from it.

But students, they have other things going on. They have MySpace, video games, texting, and all the other distractions that have plagued teenagers throughout the history of education. That’s where my love of history blends with my love of teaching. It takes more than me telling them something is interesting or important, I get them hooked and keep them engaged. I have to make the curriculum assessable while still maintaining high academic expectations. I have to get them to think about the French Revolution and the greater implications of the French Revolution when they just had a rockin’ weekend with their friends at the River or they have stayed up all night fighting trolls in World of Warcraft. I’ve never found that silver bullet solution, that one tried and true method that works for every student each day. Instead I have found dozens of techniques that I use to actively engage my students.

On any given day you may find my classes participating in deep discussions, dissecting primary sources, examining photographs online, reenacting portions of history, trying to solve a problem, analyzing art, writing poems, listening to music, empathizing with a specific individual from history, or playing a historical game. Students must understand the importance of different events and how most modern problems have deep historical foundations. History also serves as a tool to teach practical skills that will assist them long after the dates have faded from their memories. I craft my lessons so that students can develop a range of skills, from basic note taking and critically analyzing a source for bias to ultimately applying complex problem solving skills. The ability of level of each student helps determine the emphasis of specific skill sets, for instance AP students have much different needs than college prep students. I also create a balance between teacher-directed lessons and more constructivist student-center projects, providing opportunities for students to approach their learning on their own terms.

Over the years I have attempted to define my educational philosophy and found that I do my best work when not adhering to a rigid school of thought. I am always open to new ideas, theories, and techniques that better serve my objectives and the varying needs of my students. If I were to describe my teaching persona, I would say I am a history teacher trying to prepare students for the twenty-first century. That idea may be one of the most defining factors of my teaching career that has brought me extensively into the realm of staff development. I cannot imagine teaching without a computer or the Internet just a click away. Without getting on a soapbox, I do not think we can responsibly ignore the power of technology in the classroom. The American students of today get little or no academic direction how to responsibly use computers and the Internet in an ever-expanding global economy where there are significant potential long-term consequences. As a result, I have made it a priority to integrate cutting-edge technology-based projects and assignments throughout my curriculum. By the end of this year, students in my classes will have created digital video projects, completed WebQuests, mapped historical events in Google Earth, published their work on blogs, and used wikis to collaborate online.

Through my strong connection with the SDSU Department of Educational Technology, San Diego County Office of Education, GUHSD Technology Resources, and a strong Internet presence I have had the opportunity to help spread that message. In my 12 years in the district, I have had the privilege to speak to over 350 GUHSD teachers and hundreds more around the nation about integrating various forms of technology into their curriculum. Through these expanding connections I find myself part of a nationwide network of teachers and educational technologists who continually look to improve instructional strategies. At West Hills I have helped establish what I consider to be a model professional learning community for world history. Our five teacher team made incredible strides to enhance the course curriculum and provide equitable learning opportunities for all world history students, which resulted in a dramatic increase in subject SAT9 scores last year. We continue to bring our strengths together while still encouraging independent innovation.

In many ways I consider myself an artist. The mechanics of my classroom are fluid and flexible. I constantly work to improve my instruction. I refine and at times redefine the lessons and dynamics of my classroom as necessary. As a product and now an employee of this district, I know the caliber of teachers found in the GUHSD. I am honored to be nominated for the Teacher of the Year award, and I appreciate your consideration.

7 thoughts on “Teacher of the Year Application”

  1. Hi!
    I like your blog and would like to invite you to join ‘Teachers Planet’: http://teachersplanet.ning.com/

    It is an online community for teachers of all levels and curriculum areas.Your visit to the network will provide an opportunity for you to share your expertise with our teachers.At teachers planet you can start your own groups, start/participate in a discussion/ forum, add videos, music, RSS feeds, start blogs and do many more things.

    Thank you for your time and consideration


  2. Dan,

    I am very impressed with your understanding of students and their needs. It seems to me like your students are fortunate to have a flexible teacher who is willing to try new methods to achieve common standards. I wish I had you has a teacher when I was a kid.



  3. Good luck Dan. I’m impressed by your use of technology in the classroom and aspire to be in your shoes… the shoes of a potential teacher of the year.

    your teaching philosophy is akin to mine. often times we’re forced to sell a product to unaccepting buyers… it is our job to get them to buy it… currently, technology and many of the things that you mentioned help us to complete that job.

    good luck


  4. Hi Dan,

    I just wanted to make sure that you were invited to our education “Blogger Summit”. We hope you can make it and feel free to share this invitation with any other bloggers in the area that might be interested. The invitation is attached below.

    ED In ’08 Blogger Summit


    Strong American Schools is excited to announce the ED in ’08 Blogger Summit. Conference details are as follows:

    May 14th – 15th
    Palomar Hotel, Washington DC
    Registration is Free!

    An opening reception is scheduled on the evening of Wednesday, May 14th. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served before the screening of a new documentary film on education, Two Million Minutes. A Q&A session with the filmmakers is set to follow.

    Then join us for an all-day conference on May 15th. Nowhere else will you have an opportunity to meet and network with fellow education bloggers, participate in panels, attend workshops, and help tackle some tough questions on the state of education in America.

    Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP today!

    Register at http://edin08.com/bloggersummit/


  5. This post is awesome! You certainly do deserve to be nominiated for teacher of the year. I’m still in college and working on my education degree so it was not that long ago that I was in high school history classes, AP and regular, and you would inspire any student. To know that technology is essential and making students understand that history is still relevant is so important and I’m so glad to see a teacher embrace that.


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