Who Am I?
My name is Brian. I run this website. If you’re visiting for the first time, you might be curious about who’s behind what you’re reading. I wear a lot of different hats, but let me try and explain a bit about my background and my motivations.
I’m a Teacher
Since 2007, I’ve been a social studies teacher at East Orange Campus High School in East Orange, NJ. I’ve taught Early U.S. History, Modern U.S. History, World History, and A.P. Government. I was a political science major in college, and I’m somewhat of a geek when it comes to politics. I love history, too, although more from a political perspective than a traditional historian’s perspective.
At the end of the day, though, I see my job as being an educator – not a teacher of this or that. My job is to help young people become adults, and that involves teaching them a lot more than U.S. History or World History. I love my kids, and they keep my coming back to work everyday. If they learn something about history, that’s nice. But if I can give them the skills they need to succeed in the future and become lifelong learners, well, that’s even better.
I’m an Educational Advocate
I’ve always been interested in politics and policy, but I was more of a spectator than a participant. Then, in 2013-14, I completed a graduate fellowship at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. That got the political juices flowing, and since then I’ve been much more engaged with education from a policy and political standpoint. I’m currently the Government Relations Chairperson for my local, the East Orange Education Association, and in that position I help organize teachers to advocate for themselves, their schools, and their students.
I’m a Student and a Researcher
I love school and I love to learn. After leaving Rutgers with a Masters of Education and teaching for a year, I returned to Rutgers part time to begin a doctoral program. I’m currently in the process of writing my dissertation proposal as I work towards completing an Ed.D. in Social Studies Education.
Narrowing down my research interests was perhaps the toughest part of going back to school. There are so many things I’d like to investigate, but there’s so little time. Urban education was a clear contender, as I teach in a small city outside of Newark, NJ. Technology was the other option, and ultimately it won out. Most of the reading and research I’ve done in graduate school has fallen into one of those two broad categories, and my dissertation will ultimately focus on the use of technology in social studies classrooms.
I’m a Technology Geek
I literally grew up with computers. That might be a common thing for a teenager to say, but not for someone born in the 1980’s. My uncle worked for IBM and my father was an engineer, so when my uncle offered to give us an old computer we pounced on it. This was before the days of Windows, so I learned to talk to the computer with a keyboard at roughly the same time I learned to read. I was one of the first people in my neighborhood to get a broadband connection, and I took the programming sequence in high school. I passed the AP Comp Sci test and earned 8 college credits in anticipation of being a Comp Sci major at Rutgers. Oh, how things change.
My major changed to Political Science, but my passion for technology didn’t. At school, I’m the computer guy. When something breaks and the tech coordinator isn’t around, people ask me what to do. My second year at the school, I found some old PCs that were set to be retired, and I recycled them for use in my room. A few years later, I colonized a computer lab that was no longer in use and took it for my classroom. My passion for technology is a cornerstone of my practice in the classroom.
Ultimately, I’m a Lifelong Learner
Technology allows you to do all kinds of cool things in class – from basic powerpoints, to quick video clips, to course management software, to student presentations, to creating graphs. But underneath all of the fancy new web applications and tools, there’s a core idea that I need my students to understand. Everything you need to know is available on the Internet. If you know how to find it, and if you have the perseverance to pursue it.
In the last ten years, I’ve used the internet to build a working knowledge of many things: photography, web design, cooking, auto repair. I never went to school for these things; I determined that I wanted to learn them, and so I scoured the Internet for everything I could read about those topics.
So Why Make This Website?
There are a few reasons why I run this website.
- I firmly believe that teaching is a team sport, and that when we work together we benefit our students. So this is my contribution to the profession – sharing the resources and techniques that I’ve learned in my years in the classroom.
- I learn a great deal by explaining things to other people. As teachers, we should all understand this. Therefore, by telling other teachers about things, I will ultimately learn a great deal about it myself.
- As a graduate student and a doctoral candidate, I feel a need to be a part of the larger conversation about the future of education. At the same time, I don’t see myself as being a traditional professor at a research university, continually studying something and writing about it in peer reviewed journals. I want to be part of a real conversation with real teachers about things happening in real classrooms.
- Finally, as an advocate I want to be a part of the larger conversation about education policy and politics. Twitter is great for sharing resources and getting in contact, but at some point you need to put your thoughts into more than 144 characters. This is a place for me to put down my thoughts and share them.
So I hope you learn something. I hope I learn something. But ultimately, I hope that we as an educational community can move forward and ensure that our students learn something.