No matter where in the world they’re teaching from, our ambassadors are helping us bring our mission to life. Their enthusiasm, ideas, and expertise are helping teachers and schools have a greater impact on students.
California teacher Paul Dietrich is one of those enthusiastic educators.
This August marks Paul’s 7th year of teaching at Fairview Middle School in the Gonzales Unified School District, where he serves as the Department Chair of Mathematics. Paul also serves as the Vice President of Monterey Bay CUE, and is a Google Certified Innovator, in addition to being an awesome Classcraft Ambassador. We tapped into his expertise and asked Paul a few questions to share his wisdom and advice for new and seasoned teachers.
Get ready to be inspired and encouraged (we can all use a little pep talk from time to time!).
What advice do you have for teachers in this challenging new school year?
Remember who you are! You are thoughtful, considerate, respectful, impactful, and creative. You are a Teacher. The absolutely amazing things that happen in your classroom are not the product of the four walls that surround you and your students. You breathe life into all of your lessons. You create and build relationships.
Many school districts have admirably chosen to not start the year with in-person classes in order to keep everyone safe. Distance learning is not without its obstacles and, indeed, face-to-face interactions exceed any form of virtual conferencing. That said, we must be prepared to accept the fact that distance learning may become part of the “new normal” for all of us. Now, more than ever, we must learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is not only plausible— but fully possible —that student learning doesn’t just survive during distance learning, but thrives.
All is not lost. You are not alone. Remember who you are. You are the invaluable factor that creates any environment conducive to learning. You are a Teacher.
What Personal Learning Networks would you recommend?
My CUE family has been an amazing pillar of support, especially my local affiliate, Monterey Bay CUE (@MBCUE). Becoming a member of CUE has completely transformed the way I search for, and engage in, edtech tools and strategies for my classroom, school, and district.
If I have a techie question that I need to have answered quickly, one of the first places I turn to is the Facebook group “Teacher Tech – Alice Keeler“.
You should also check out the Facebook Groups “This Side of the Chalkboard“, “EduMatch“, “Global Google Educator Group (Global GEG)”, and “YouCubed“. These are amazing groups to share, discuss, and brainstorm with!
Author’s note: Paul was also one of the first and most engaging members of the Classcraft Educator Community!
What positive words do you teach by?
“Never forget the Power of ‘Yet’!”
As educators, we try to inspire our students to have a growth mindset, all while struggling to be conscientious of the “fixed” nature of our own. It’s so easy for us to get caught in a web of doubt, and yet so important for us to ensure that those doubts aren’t the catalysts to materializing self-fulfilling prophecies. It’s true that many students aren’t understanding the concepts. It’s true that some may not be trying their best. It’s true that students say “I don’t understand this.”
But building a classroom culture that revolves around the “Power of ‘Yet’” will transform your learning environment.
“I don’t understand the concept … Yet.”
“I’m not trying my best … Yet.”
“I don’t understand this … Yet.”
By including “Yet” in the challenges we face, we remove the sense of finality the challenge has on our self-belief, allowing us to persevere through adversity.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m surrounded by an amazing community, staff, and students, and I applaud their willingness to try new things and embrace change. I began using Classcraft in 2016 and have been absolutely hooked on it ever since!
Before Classcraft, I did my best to keep my students engaged in the classroom. Once I started using it, my students’ engagement and participation skyrocketed! To this day, I still have students coming into my classroom during recess and lunch simply wanting to login and check on their characters or show them off to other classmates.
There are plenty of programs out there to encourage participation and engagement, but when you have students constantly reminding you that you forgot to activate the Riders of Vay [Random Events], you know you’ve found a keeper!
Are you an excited Classcraft educator? Would you like to share your experience and help other educators build positive relationships in the classroom? Learn about our Ambassador program here.