David Edfeldt Recommendation Of Eric Long

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David\'s letter recommends that I be hired for taking over the technology instruction program at Skyline High School. It highlights leadership and teaching skills.

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David Edfeldt Recommendation Of Eric Long

  1. 1. David EdfeldtMay 5, 1999To Whom It May Concern,I would like to recommend Eric Long as the long term substitute or short term contract hire to finish out theyear as TIP teacher at Skyline. Eric has done an outstanding job as a student teacher at Skyline andtherefore already knows the needs of the program, and he has all the makings of an outstanding technologyteacher who could make a long and meaningful contribution to computer education in Issaquah. Whatfollows are my observations of Eric’s teaching as made to his supervising professor at Western and a fewfollow up observations of what he’s accomplished since I left.(Notes to Supervising Professor)Eric called me early last fall to observe at Skyline. I was immediately impressed by the depth of technicalexpertise he possessed, evidenced by his Microsoft certification, but showing even more in the nature ofthe questions he asked and the observations he made on the network we had developed. Eric morecompletely understood why we had built the school network the way we did than any visitor I’ve ever had.His expertise has paid dividends in student teaching. Not only does he know the material, he can explainthe material, putting it in a context, and giving specific anecdotal examples of when the material had beenuseful in the field.In days Eric was teaching small groups of students physical wiring. The response of the class was verypositive. They recognized his technical skill as authoritative. His approach was informal, approachable,allowing students problem-solve correct wiring using the tools rather than didactically proclaiming thecorrect solution.After a short time Eric moved into primary presenter mode. We together rewrote the plan for the rest of theyear, using his experience in NT networking and the MSCE exam process to revise my original curriculum.We started with a “monkey see, monkey do” approach in which I would teach a lesson fourth period andEric would replicate the same material for the next two classes. He has successfully moved into presentingin all sections.For his presentations Eric developed PowerPoint shows which were e-mailed to the students for notes. Thepresentations typically would flip between concept development with slides and demonstration actuallyusing machines in the room or servers. The students next completed an assignment that typically required asimulation or standard activity so all received the same experience. These activities were followed by amore open-ended activity in which the students would have to apply the concepts to a new situation. Theactivities invariably used current culture as a base (Agent Scully of X-files for user permissions lab,simulated high school groups for file sharing and permissions labs.) Finding the best level of difficulty isalways a trick in technical material, but Eric properly adjusted, backtracked when necessary, pushed fasterwhen appropriate.Since Eric joined me I have been offered and accepted a position at Microsoft, an unplanned event but oneI would be foolish to turn down. When I told the students, I was afraid they would have a strong negativereaction. I was relieved that once they realized Eric would be continuing without me, the students werevery positive about the change, happy for me and comfortable that the program wasn’t going to fall apart.Over the weeks since the announcement, student feedback about Eric has been consistently positive,making this transition much easier. His interaction with the students is relaxed, confident and productive.If there is any weakness in Eric’s experience student teaching it is more in the circumstance than in hispotential. Because my classes are small and filled with motivated students, he has little experience dealingwith discipline issues. He has not needed to acquire the stern disciplinarian toolbox. Also the labenvironment of my class has limited his large group lecture time, most discussion being just-in-time smallgroup work. To address those needs, Eric is now teaching Computer Applications, a large class full ofstudents who do not necessarily want to be there. I’m sure this experience will provide the broader
  2. 2. exposure he needs. I have also arranged for him to observer master teachers in other disciplines in theirworst classes so he can learn how they handle difficult situations.Eric struggles writing lesson plans, but frankly I struggle writing plans in this fast changing area oftechnology – this isn’t like teaching math out of a book! There are not high school textbooks that apply, somost things given the students are teacher generated. Creating situations where the subtle networkinteractions emerge which the students need to observe (network traffic problems for diagnosingperformance problems, for example) is very difficult and time consuming. I’ve been pleased with Eric’swork ethic – I know he was surprised by how difficult structuring these situations has been. His progress issteady and good.I am also pleased with Eric’s participation in the larger educational role beyond the classroom. He hasdaily discussed the building technology needs where we’ve dealt with vandalism, security, access issues,and an approaching remodel. He has attended all faculty meetings during a window of time when the entireschool has been under attack for overly harsh academic expectations. He participates in weekly meetings todiscuss district-wide technical issues including a tech bond. Eric also attended the NCCE conference fortwo days and helped me teach a three-hour NT and school-wide networks workshop on the Saturdayfollowing that conference. He judged student projects for a NWCET competition at Bellevue CommunityCollege. I plan to have him in to speak to my UW extension school networking class. He will be acontributor to the profession in whatever school he eventually works.I could not be happier with his progress. He recognizes weaknesses and addresses them. He doesn’t seemnearly as stressed by the workload as I remember being when I first taught. He will need to learn thedisciplinarian skills and continue to improve his lesson planning, but these are expected problems that willresolve with experience and time. Eric will make an excellent technology teacher, one I’d certainly like asa colleague. My bigger concern is he also will be whisked away to the private sector – his technical skillsare so strong and the demand for his unique skills is great.(some follow up notes)I have not seen Eric since leaving a month ago so I have only circumstantial evidence to support my beliefthat the potential he showed and I documented in this earlier observation has worked out as I’d hoped. Firstobservation: TIP is a program that is strongly student driven – its success depends on a unique workingrelationship with students. I still hear from the kids and student feedback I’ve received on Eric’s work hasbeen positive. Secondly, it’s important to note that despite the word being out that I was leaving signup forTIP next year is around 90+ students, another reflection on the student’s confidence in the programs healthunder Eric’s leadership. Finally, I am still visiting Skyline on the weekends finishing a networking classfor techs. The room has never been better organized; its obvious things are getting done. I’m confident thebest thing for the program is to retain Eric as primary instructor of the class.Sincerely,David Edfeldt

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