By SEAN ROWLEY
Tahlequah High School math teacher Chuck Pack does more than teach - he chairs the THS math department, coordinates the district’s math curriculum and serves as vice president for the Tahlequah Education Association, among other duties.
On Friday, Pack took part in an interview to assist fellow teachers laboring far away.
“One of the reasons this happened was my work with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in San Francisco,” Pack said. “I got a call from the Teaching Channel telling me they wanted to send a team if I was willing to open up my classroom and take part.”
The crew filmed an outdoor exercise, in which Pack’s students measured the height of a flagpole using the rule of similar triangles.
“The flagpole problem is fun,” Pack said. “The students are engaged and we get pretty good results. We had skipped over it because of the weather. It broke my heart to leave it and I wanted to come back to it. It was a perfect choice to film.”
Pack said some students acted a little differently in proximity to a film crew.
“It was kind of funny,” he said. “Some students who were normally very outgoing were reserved, while others who were usually quiet were the first to speak up. But they did really well. Their math was solid.”
The interview was conducted by Luna Productions of Berkeley, Calif. The independent production company contracts with the Teaching Channel to create videos.
“The videos can be compiled into one-hour episodes that air on PBS,” said Catherine Ryan, Luna producer. “We travel all over to visit classrooms and teachers to document excellence in teaching and learning.”
Pack was among seven teachers chosen nationwide to be interviewed for the series, which is a collaboration between the National Education Association and the Teaching Channel. The NEA included Pack among its recommended subjects for interview.
“We’ve been to Los Angeles, Connecticut, Long Island, Memphis, and now Oklahoma,” Ryan said. “This is our first trip to Tahlequah. The people here are very friendly.”
During his interview, Pack said he wanted teachers to realize they were probably already doing many of the right things.
“I hope what we’re doing through the Teaching Channel is to help teachers see something where they think, ‘Well, I hadn’t thought of that,’ or ‘I haven’t used that strategy,’” he said.
In the interview, Pack was also asked about the importance of collaboration between teachers - collaboration being the motive of the video.
“I am not a traditionally certified teacher and did not come through the regular certification process,” he said.
“If I had not landed here among this group of people, with a good principal, I don’t know what I would have done. I was dying at first. I had taught mathematics to adults at a university for 13 years. The principal here told me I wasn’t teaching mathematics, I was teaching kids. That paradigm shift and the colleagues who helped me - I’m a good teacher only because of the people around me.”
The Teaching Channel features videos in which teachers share their instruction practices for professional development. The community includes teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade.
The videos also include suggestions for alignment with Common Core State Standards. Visit www.teachingchannel.org.