Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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  Workshop 6: Civic Engagement  
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Workshop 6

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Student Perspectives: Bill Mittlefehldt's teaching style

Andy: He changes his voice and he keeps you interested. He’s not one of those teachers that just bores you. He’s always up on his feet. He’s always moving around, getting people involved, so you’re always paying attention to find out what’s going to happen next. It makes class a lot more fun and it’s a much better learning environment. He’s real big on going out to the community and working with the community. He thinks that’s a really good feature to have as students--to get out and work with your community--and that has bettered us a lot, I believe.

John: He’s taught me that you can really be a part of your community and apply yourself not just by learning the textbook but just to go out in the community and do something that’s really going to help the community--apply what you’ve learned all 18 years you’ve been in school and use that to better the community.

Rachel: He’s very enthusiastic and very loud. If somebody is falling asleep in the class or is reclining, he will send them out for walks around the building or the social studies area just to get the blood up and pumping. He’s very interactive and encourages you to talk and share your opinion and will ask people out of the blue what they think about certain topics. I believe that what makes him a great teacher is his passion and energy for what he is doing. He smiles all the time about certain subjects. He cracks jokes all the time. I think that the passion comes from teaching for a really long time in this school district. Also, his life experiences have led him to be very insightful on certain things. He taught in south Chicago at a reform school. In New York, he was a social worker. So he’s just got very, very, very different kind of ideas and experiences than we have had.

He’s not passive in dealing with students. He doesn’t sit behind his desk and talk. Just [having] to interact is what really brings him into every student’s vision and he’s very in your face in regard to making you be there to learn instead of just to sit. I believe his interactions really encourage us to get to know the different people in our class. There are people who are in the bottom half of their class. There are people in the top half of their class, juniors and seniors, girls and boys who are in groups together and groups apart. I think there are some really shy people who wouldn’t get their ideas out without him calling on them and making them speak. All the people in our classes come from different places in their lives, so we really gain different insights from that.

When he listens, he looks you in the eyes. I think that really creates the tone of respect that he cares what you’re saying. Or he’ll refer to something you said in the class as a good example of what you thought and how it relates to things that we’ve talked about in class. I think when he engages people in conversation it really shows that he cares what the students are talking about. He’s never upset with us if we have a differing opinion. He’s always more than polite, always very welcoming of new opinions, and will take it and run with it, even if he doesn’t agree with it, to help you to evolve. Now, where teachers can only stay until 2:40 every afternoon, he actually stayed past that to help us get things together because we were going to the capital the next day. It was a big step to help us. He really cares about what we’re doing. I think that really helps create a really good place to learn.

When he talks about service-learning opportunities for our area, he really focuses on stuff that we can do to help. He has a lot of contacts so he really focuses on what we can do here and now. The focus is on improving your community, and we learn about that from the book, from lessons, and going online.

We definitely hear an opinion. [That’s] not to say that he doesn’t show the other side. It’s just you can tell what side he is on. He does maintain neutrality on certain subjects. Being a teacher for so long, he knows how to interact with the class and get people to respond to different questions and show their opinions. We don’t deal with very many controversial issues, but the ones that we do deal with, both sides are represented and the information he has is recent. It’s very interesting to hear his ideas, and we look forward to them.


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