Who's Chris?

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I grew up in Arcadia, California, the suburbs of Los Angeles. I met wife when we were both teaching in NYC public schools. We welcomed our daughter Mary to the world in 2011.

"We honor children with a great deal of responsibility."
-Ron Berger

 

Ron Berger wrote in his treatise, Ethic of Excellence: “We honor children with a great deal of responsibility and we expect them to live up to this honor. Rather than seeing school as something being done to them, students are given the responsibility to carry out original academic projects, save work in portfolios, and reflect publicly on their work and their learning. They present their work regularly in school assemblies and in exhibitions for the town community.”

 

My Teaching Path

 

My eleven years of teaching has been dedicated to the pursuit of educational excellence. Early on I saw that many educators based their practices off their early experiences, often those of their mentors during their pre-service years. I recognized that there were so many different ways to create powerful classrooms, and much of my career has been an active effort to master different learning environments.

I started my career at Monta Vista High School (Cupertino), where I began my lifelong interest in project-based learning by modifying my AP US History course to incorporate community initiatives. My students conducted oral histories and transformed our classroom into a museum for local elementary students to learn about their neighbors’ histories. I fundamentally believe that discovering and reporting history is the best route to understanding history.
 

Having done my student training and first years in a suburban district, I recognized that I needed to challenge my practice. I was invited to help start a new urban school for at-risk youth dedicated to government in New York City. I left Monta Vista to immerse myself in urban education. There I learned the value and skill of efficient classroom processes. What is useful in any classroom is essential in an urban classroom. It was the most difficult year of my career, working sixty-hour weeks, but it was there that I found affirmation that teaching is a life-long growth process. When I met my wife, a fellow NYC public school teacher, we decided that sixty-hour workweeks were not sustainable.

When I returned to Monta Vista High School, I created the district’s first 1:1 laptop social science course that built on my early project-based learning work but incorporated the principles of expeditionary learning I experienced in NYC. Both teaching practices are rooted in the work of Ron Berger, who helped create High Tech High and later started the Expeditionary Learning movement. I now teach middle school in a 1:1 iPad and 1:1 Chromebook classroom and formally served on the Mountain View Whisman School Board from 2012-2015.