Alex Lehky


Hey everybody, this is my page. I'm a senior like everyone else pretty much, I live just off Grand River on Gunson Street. I'm originally from Rochester, NY but I attended High School in Petoskey, MI. Like everyone else here in the class I bleed Green and White. I'm on the coaching staff of the Petoskey High School Football Program, Go Northmen, and I have a season of coaching high school basketball under my belt as well. I consider myself a decent poker player and I like to eat and cook and take part in the solid night life here in East Lansing. I'm looking forward to teaching simply because I love it and I think with some experience I could excel at it. GO GREEN!

November 30
Reflection: Go to the below site, take the test... and respond to how well it fits you and if you think it is helpful in understanding how you learn.

So my top three intelligences according to this survey in this order is:

Body Movement: You like to move, dance, wiggle, walk, and swim. You are likely good at sports, and you have good fine motor skills. You may enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together. Incorporating body movement into your learning will help you process and retain information better. Here are some ideas.

Social: You like to develop ideas and learn from other people. You like to talk. You have good social skills. Effective techniques of enhancing your learning using your social intelligence include taking part in group discussions or discussing a topic one-to-one with another person. Find ways to build reading and writing exercises into your group activities, such as:

Self: You have a very good sense of self. You like to spend time by yourself and think things over. You will often take in information from another person, mull it over by yourself, and come back to that person later to discuss it. You like working on projects on your own. You often prefer to learn by trial and error. Effective techniques to enhance your learning include keeping a journal and giving yourself time to reflect on new ideas and information. More ideas:

I have never been a big fan of these surveys as most of the time they ask you opinion questions. Whenever I take these I feel like I'm having to look myself in the mirror and really wonder whether or not I'm a 4 or a 5 on the level of how much I like to play sports with a ball for example. This survey was similar in this fact. I don't think there is really away to figure out what exactly our intelligence strengths are by completing a survey like this. I think the only and best way to do this is simple trial and error over the years through your education. By the time we get part way through high school, and if not, then definitely college, we know what we're best at, how we learn most efficiently, and how to best retain information and concepts deemed important by the powers that be. However, I would agree that these three intelligences are probably my strongest suits which really blows my previous argument out of the water. I guess I would like to argue against what it says under Body Movement: I like to wiggle. Now I don't consider myself much of a wiggler. Perhaps if the time was right and the situation called for it, but I'm struggling to find one.

November 16
email your corresponding colleague to ask how they get to know their students and also what limits they put on their relationships with students
I usually have an opening day questionnaire that gives me a little insight as to who they are; their likes and dislikes, hobbies etc.

After reading those, I try to find a "connect" with them and usually engage in "sidebar" conversations. Try to learn a little bit about a lot of things - it will help when you get with a wide variety of students.

For example: my dad is a huge car fan and has a number he has collected - over the yrs I have been able to learn a little about cars because of him (not engine stuff) but, that gives me an "in" with the auto tech guys,

I took piano, band, choir etc and went to many plays and musicals - so, I can intelligently "talk" with my music people. Sports - well, that's an easy one... but be careful not to talk too much sports with people because they'll peg you for being the sports minded "teacher/coach" and not really interested in them.

Read the news! Know current events!! Your "super bright" kids will like to have sidebar conversations about the unique or bizarre news happenings! Know the latest book that teen girls are reading (not that you have to read it) but if you give a "shout out" to the latest Twilight character (or whatever the latest is) they will think you are "so cool" and you're in!

One of my first memories of this was at my first school - it was more culturally diverse than Ptown. I was teaching Geography and broke into song (rap song chorus) which strangely applied to the topic at hand. My ethnic students all looked at each other like - "is this girl trippin"?? Seriously - but from then on - I was in - and I had their attention - and their confidence and we connected!!

What I am saying Alex - is that in a strange way - you have to be sort of a "Renaissance Man". Over the course of your career, you will meet and teach hundreds of students - and the more you know about many different things and can "speak the language" the easier it will be to connect with your students. Once you do that, most will be more inclined to "work for you". (Of course, we know that they are only helping themselves)!

A lot of this - as you know - is psychology! Students want to know you are interested in them. They want to know that you understand and/or care about what they are in to. Go to as many events as you can - band/choir, quiz bowl, any of the lesser advertised events - sports are easy and I know you will get to those! :) It will take a while to establish this - but if you stick with it, it will really help! Again, this is usually done through my opening day survey, and many "sidebar" conversations. Also, making reference to a wide variety of things in the classroom! ( Although I must admit - I tend to talk football and Lions a little too much this time of year!) ;)

Here's the thing with history - most teens aren't into history - at least now. But, if you can "get them", make them feel valued and earn their trust - they will figuratively go anywhere with you!! Even to the most boring/dull sections of history - Mugwumps vs. Stalwarts, the Populists and the Progressives. It can't all be exciting WWII action or the hippies or whatever. But, if you can reach them early on - they'll go there with you!!

November 9
Anything you remember, or want to ask about our visit with Ben at Haslett Middle.
As we all saw in Ben's class at Haslett, he is an outstanding teacher. He commands the attention of the classroom extraordinarily well and keeps his students' focuses. He stressed choosing your battles and that it really is impossible to fight every small skirmish that will arise in our teaching careers. Ben was not the most professionally dressed teacher I had ever seen in my life, however he talked a little bit about the conception that teachers are on such a large pedestal compared to the students, and I wonder if his wardrobe was premeditated to close this gap. I thought Ben used a great combination of questioning and direct instruction in the lesson we deserved. His storytelling was very interesting and always applicable to what the essential questions and goals of the lesson was. I know that in the past, those teachers that used storytelling really helped me remember what they were talking about and the point of the lessons. It reminded me of "Coach Carter" in that he told a story about each of his sisters and then named his plays on the basketball court after the sister that had the most relevance. One attribute that every great teacher that I've had is their genuine concern and passion for the young people that they teach. Ben definitely had that. He talked about his love of the kids and how they make the job worthwhile. It would be great to model my future lessons after a lot of what he did.

November 2
Describe crucial (memorable) aspects of the hidden and null curricula that you experienced in secondary school. (ie what did you learn from school that was not academic, or what did you understand to be important or not important based on what you were taught or were not taught)
Probably the most memorable things that I learned from attending public school had to do with simple social interactions. Public school teaches you a lot about how to interact with your peers, build relationships and really begin networking. Athletics, while not in the classroom but still in various settings in schools, taught me more about teamwork, camaraderie, and the value of hard work better than any teacher ever did. I think it's important to remember that life itself is far more than knowing facts, doing well on tests, or even just being smart. To me, to set our students up with the tools to be successful in life we must give them the tools to be well rounded human beings. While learning about the geography of Africa is example, it's also very important to give students the skills they need to be productive members of society. If push comes to shove, I'd rather have my students retain the lessons of the values of honesty, team work, and respect for others. It can be difficult to teach these in a traditional academic setting.

October 26
What surprised you most about this reading?
To be honest, what surprised me most about this article was simply how racist this is. To say, "The Caucasian or white race stands decidedly at the head of the different races" is undoubtedly short sighted and it's sentiments like that which lead to and fosters hatred and ignorance based on how people look. "They are superior in the arts of civilization, in physical enterprise, and in personal beauty and symmetry, and also in intellectual and moral improvement." This sounds like a statement you would hear sitting around the fire at a klan kegger. Now this is assuming that the KKK partakes in meetings around a fire and also that they engage in drinking beer, but if anyone wants to refute that you're more than welcome too. It's terrifying that people who will have influence on the formation of education policies and standards. I would not want someone with such ignorant views to have anything to do with the intellectual growth of my children or anyone's children for that matter.
What would you argue were the strongest influences on how social studies began?
I would argue that the strongest influence on how social studies began, according to the reading, was ultimately boiled down to the racist ideas that those who moved to our country from abroad were not intellectually as capable as whites. According to this reading, Social Studies was originally instituted to teach these people how to be American citizens and better assimilate into "our" culture. Again, this is an absolute fallacy, which I believe is pretty widely accepted today.
In what ways might the foundations of social studies impact what we do or don’t do today? (reference the last full paragraph on pg 91 as well as the one that follows it)
I think that these foundations of Social Studies impact what we do and don't today extensively. The example that jumps out at me occurs in history especially. Beyond slavery and the civil rights movement, we rarely read, hear, or are taught about African Americans and their perspectives throughout history. The same is said for other races. Women are also snubbed often times, although in newer text books, they are starting to surface and their accounts can be more easily heard. Overall, the many perspectives, especially in history, are still shaped and influenced by the foundations of Social Studies set down back in the day.

How will you teach about Columbus after our discussion the other day? Why?
As we talked about during that discussion, perspective is everything when teaching and learning about controversial topics like Columbus. The way I will teach about Columbus will first depend on what grade level I'm teaching. Some of the more dastardly things that Columbus did should be abstained from the curriculum of middle school in my opinion. Most high school students need to be educated past the PG-13 rated content regarding Columbus and his exploits. Another aspect of this controversy that will dictate how I teach about Columbus is what my students have been taught in the past. If my students have no idea of the "bad Columbus", as many don't, then I will probably spend more time on this perspective of Columbus and emphasize that this is another perspective that they should consider. The goal here is to obviously not provide this one perspective and the lonesome truth. Another thing to avoid is completely smashing what they have been taught in the past and along with that comes not bashing past educators the students may have had. I would try to teach Columbus completely objectively and make it clear that to his people he was portrayed one way and to others he was seen another way. It will also be important to teach historical perspectives and what was acceptable and not acceptable in the times of Columbus and compare them with today's same social standards. In the end I would want them to develop their own views and opinions of Columbus and his exploits.

How do you feel about the process of creating a professional growth and development plan? Do you think this is a useful task? Would it have usability in a middle school or high school classroom?

For me, to actually go through the process of creating a professional growth and development plan was outstanding for me just from the aspect of growth both on the professional and personal levels; so the word growth is not just in the title for show. It was a great way for me to reflect upon my strengths and weaknesses because that has not been something that I have done ever in my life to this point as a student or a prospective teacher. I have always known about some things that I am good at, but for me it was really helpful to first of all, establish what I really need to work on, and then second, put in place a plan to actually improve and measure my own improvement in these specific areas. I think that in order to use in in a high school or middle school classroom, it could be most effectively employed if in addition to our own self development plans if it also included the input of our students and colleagues as well. I personally don't think of myself now, and I don't think I will ever be above asking my students or colleagues for help on how to get better. With the relatively small coaching background that I have, I have found myself preaching sentiments like that include the value of hard work, passion in everything you do, and a hunger to get better in whatever you do. If I were to disregard any input my students or colleagues were to have about me teaching, it would be downright hypocritical of me. I plan on using this as well as adding to it both in this class and also into my career in the classroom.

Teacher Response to Assessments

My assessments are very similar to what you experienced in my class.

I have weekly assignments which are intended to get the students into the book – to read info on their own – and to reinforce the lesson for the day.

Large assessments come in the form of Chapter tests usually. I also have large projects (in which the students are responsible for covering the “Huskies” in their presentation) And also papers.

I guess I am “old school” in this approach. I do a variety of things in my class that could be labeled as “formative” assessments – check for understanding – watch for nonverbal cues as to whether a student “gets it” or not.

Sometimes I have students get into groups and do “mini” assignments in which they simply report back to the class.

It is hard for me to put the labels of formative and/or summative on the things I do. I have done them for so long and I guess (according to my observations by principals)I do them…

Perhaps this is a case of teaching old dog new trick??

Respond to the Sir Ken Robinson video. How does this change your understanding of the harm that Phyllis talked about? Do you agree with Robinson? How as social studies teachers can we foster the creativity Robinson is describing? What other thoughts do you have?

I completely agree with what Sir Ken Robinson is saying with regards to the fact that our education system is squandering our students creativity and talents. When he says, "creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it as such in education" i could not agree more. I think as a system we tend to push students to pursue careers and occupations that they are told to by unreasonable sources. For example if students take a test in their early years that say they should be a lawyer or an engineer or whatever. To be honest, I'm sure there are people a couple of years into their college careers that still are unsure of what type of occupation they should be pursuing. I find it interesting the argument that the goal of the global education is to produce University professors. A great example of this is the point that when schools find themselves in times of economic trouble they cut funding for things like the arts, culinary programs, music and the like. All throughout school I remember people discouraging students to set goals to be musicians, artists, professional athletes and all other jobs that were deemed that such a small percentage of those who start towards this career actually "make it". So instead of having a student who is passionate about dance or art spend time in those types of classes, as a system we have them sit in classes that they do not feel as passionately about and because of this they struggle to fin motivation. He says it best when he says, "Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mined the Earth: for a specific commodity, and for the future, it won't suffice." As social studies teachers I believe that instead of pushing our students to simply listen to lectures and do worksheets based on textbooks and other assignments that fall into the "traditional" category of education, we need to plan our curriculum to require our students to be creative. We can do this through maybe having our students get hands on experience with the various disciplines of social studies or having our students assume the roles of those we are studying and really delve into the subject matter. I just hope by the time we get these students at the secondary level, our education system hasn't already stifled away all their creativity.

September 28
Teacher Pen Pal Response to Unit Plans
How do you develop a unit plan and how do you decide what is most important to teach?
Well, the best answer is - I follow the Michigan High School Content Expectation standards!! "Huskies" or used to be called "Glicks".
Of course those are used as the "benchmarks" for what is expected for all US history teachers (or whatever subject).
I have a few personal feelings on that - but I'll save that for a discussion with you when I see you in person. :)
But, from there, as you know - I am a geek - history geek - and I love every chapter I teach... and feel that, of course my students should know all of it. But, in the big scheme of things, I do realize that I need to pare it down a bit.
Like I said in my last email - so much of this is "on the job training"! In my first job - I was pretty much a lone ranger. The SS dept. was only 3 people (including me). The other 2 guys were well into their careers and stuck in their ways, which was fine - but there wasn't a ton of collaboration.
When I was at Jenison - I felt as if I had died an gone to heaven! I had a dept of 11 - and they all shared what was going on in their classroom and which direction they were going in each class. AND, that was just informal lunches that we had every day - not a dept. meeting. The word of today is PLC (professional Learning Communities) where we are encouraged to meet with our dept and share ideas and work on things together....
Funny thing is - the guys (and 1 lady) when I was hired at Jenison were doing this long before!!
I think what happened over the last 10, 15 or even 20 yrs is that people came out of college with great ideas and thought that they would set the world on fire - all by themselves - which is great to have that energy and drive... But, the idea of sharing was lost in all of that (collaboration)! So now, it is mandated to do PLCs - which I believe used to happen naturally.
So, in developing unit plans - I really learned from my mentors at Jenison (not that I am singing the praises of that school - but I feel those guys, the gal I was hired with and the gal that was already there - really taught me how to be a better teacher). I would listen to them talk about World history or US and got a real sense of what they thought was important and why. Not that I totally copied them - but it helped me to stream line. And truly Alex, these men - 3 in particular - were some of the most amazing and INTELLIGENT teachers I have ever seen!
So all this blah, blah, to say - that it truly is good to listen to the advice of your "Elders". But before that, you probably will get a sense as to if they really know what they are talking about! My personal feeling is that you've got to love the topic in order to create an interesting lesson plan.
I have gone on way too long! And, I apologize if this went off on a tangent! I hope I answered the question in a manner that is helpful!
BTW - 10 yrs later and I still keep in touch with 3 of them - the other world history guy passed away the year after we moved here!
Good people!! Surround yourself with the same kind of people!! :)

(A) What has been most difficult in planning this unit so far?
I think the hardest part of planning this unit thus far has been deciding how far to go back to effectively teach about the "modern middle east". Should we go all the way back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire? If so, how in depth do we have to go to, again, effectively teach the subject and cover all of our goals for our students to understand the material? Another very difficult part has been just deciding when to cover what. There are certain parts of the curriculum that goes hand in hand with a bunch of other aspects of the curriculum. So then we're faced with the question of whether to block off days for this and that or do we just start with our lesson and go from the beginning of class to the end and then pick up where we left off the day before? I just am not sure what way is most effective.
(B) Do you think units should be planned chronologically? Around a theme? Through enduring understandings? A combination? Why?
I think units should be planned around themes that are for the most part in chronological order. I think it's important to keep units together based on themes so students can more easily understand the content and how different aspects of the unit fit together. It is also important to teach these units in very close to chronological order. Chronology plays a huge role in some of the areas of social studies like history and even geography when you talk about migrations and various cultural make ups of areas over time. If you don't teach in some what of a chronological order, for some of these subjects, it can become very confusing for students. Now there are some subjects where chronology plays a lesser role. For example economics,

(A) Keeping in mind that there are many models of good teaching, describe some attributes or characteristics that good teachers possess.I'd have to say that one of the top attributes that a good teacher must possess is patience and understanding. This is in part to be understanding of their students as much as possible but also to be understanding of themselves and the limits to what they can do. Over the past few years I've come to know the sickening truth that as a teacher I will not be able to reach every single student, nor will I be able to get every single student to completely master everything that I am trying to teach. As teachers we much stay hungry and strive to surpass our absolute best while staying realistic in our evaluations of ourselves. Another important attribute for a teacher to have is courage. It's important to stay strong and stand behind what we believe in with regards to our teaching. This could mean staying strong and brave in the face of our students and also in the face of our coworkers and superiors to keep the best interests of our students.
(B) Reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher at this point, what are some areas you are strong in? Where do you have room for improvement?To this point I have many aspects of "my game" so to speak that could use some work. First and foremost, I need to improve my speaking skills in front of a classroom. Also I simply need more experience with working on aspects of teaching like forming and executing lesson plans, as well as learning how to properly handle disciplining students. To this point the extent of disciplining students has occurred on the football field or basketball court and have come in the form of conditioning. On the flip side, I feel that I am strong in just the fact that I have a strong charismatic personality when I turn it on, and I sincerely care about my students and their performance in the classroom or any other arena they may enter.
(C) What are some things you need to learn or skills you need to practice to improve your teaching?As I stated before, I need to get better at simply being comfortable and speaking in front of a classroom, as well as how to effectively and properly discipline my students when the time calls for it. Another aspect of teaching that I could use more experience with is simply interacting with my colleagues and how to most effectively help each other the best we can.
(A) describe and post your favorite memory from a social studies class from middle/junior/senior high school
My all time favorite memory of a social studies class, although there are many, would have to be my 8th grade social studies class in its entirety. I was attending Petoskey Middle School and my teacher's name was Mr. Fralick. Mr. Fralick had the uncanny ability to keep everyone involved in class discussion. His classes never felt like lecture; they felt more like just having a conversation and we all happened to be in a classroom. The man had/has a great passion for social studies and especially history. The class was not memorizing names and dates, but it was more thinking about how and why people and groups did what they did and the causes and effects that ensued. The way he was able to involve everyone and keep everyone's attention without becoming a tyrant of the classroom was both admirable and completely effective. I hope some day I will be able to have similar success in my classroom.
(B) describe and post your worst memory or experience from a social studies class from middle/junior/senior high school
By far the worst experience I've ever had in a social studies classroom was supposedly a ancient civilizations class that was taught through Greek mythology. I've always loved history as well as Greek mythology, but this class quickly turned into merely read the story of Heracles and then watch the animated film Hercules and write a paragraph comparing and contrasting the two. We spent what felt like an eternity reading The Iliad out loud in class and then watching the move Troy. The same could be said for the Odyssey and another corresponding film. While this was the second easiest A only to PE, this went from a History and Mythology class to an hour for me to get my calculus homework done.
(C) describe and post your rationale for why you want to teach social studies and what particular reasons you find compelling for having students study and learn social studies in schools.
I want to teach social studies for a few reasons, but the dominant being that I have always had a passion for the majority of the subjects covered in social studies. Ever since elementary school I have always just eaten it up. Geography, history, political science, philosophy; it all is simply and purely interesting to me. That being said I used to share a passion with all scholastic disciplines, but as I advanced into upper lever courses I found that my natural tack with regards to math ran out at Calculus and the upper level physics and sciences went hand in hand with more complex mathematics. That pretty much left me, when it comes to teaching, Social Studies, or English. Early on I threw PE out because while everyone loves dogde-ball, but what real good are you doing in young people's lives; other than giving them an hour to workout or shoot baskets. While I've always loved to write, reading is not my favorite thing, however I've found i really do enjoy it when it is on the right topics including those in social studies, and athletics. Another key driving factor would also have to be that through the years, some of the very best overall teachers I had were my social studies teachers, so I'm sure there's some subliminal reason there as well. So that's basically how I decided I wanted to teach social studies. If nothing else it's important to have students study Social Studies to find out who really does have a passion for it. Also, I've always been a big believer in the idea or history repeating itself. Lastly, I think that one of our goals as educators of secondary level students should be to teach the students about their country that they live, how it looks geographically, culturally, politically, and what the responsibilities of both them as citizens and the government have in our great country but also the world.