About Me

As an educator, we must be aware of our teaching practices and strive to create learning communities that are supportive, experiences that are varied, outcomes that are tied to curriculum goals, activities that are developmentally appropriate, and integration of 21st century skills with technology integration. Who said teaching was easy?

My philosophy on learning is that children are constructivist in nature. They build what they understand through experiences that they can feel, see and hear for themselves. Learning experiences that are concrete and real tend to have more of a lasting impact than something we have given lip service. Learning happens when it is relevant, useful, fun, interesting and engaging and I strive to make every single lesson all of the above.

Schools are transforming. The old model of education supported churning out factory workers that were competent in basis skills but were complacent, docile and obedient.

As we have marched into the 21st century we have come to understand that education cannot be merely a collection of facts, but a larger breadth of understanding which gives our future the ability to synthesize information and apply it to the challenges that we find ahead of us. Our school system cannot anymore be about the “what” the students learn but the more interesting question now is “how”, meaning how students will wield this education. What are they learning it for? To merely pass a test or to use and apply it for some greater good? It is a travesty that people limit students ambitions with service learning and community action. “They’re too young. They’re inexperienced. What do they know about solving these complex issues?” are common rebuttals.

It’s our duty to provide authentic, rich tasks for students to do. When they know that the skills they’re learning have higher applications, motivation goes off the chart.

I am currently a teacher at Saigon South International School in Ho Chi Minh City, where I currently teach middle school math and science. Before becoming a teacher I taught environmental sciences on Catalina Island, worked as a field researcher in central California, and worked at Lanna International School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. As an educator, I’m particularly interested in curriculum design, assessment and differentiation. In my free time, I enjoy scuba diving, basketball, guitar, chess and spending time with my beautiful family.

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
Teacher, Saigon South International School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2006-present
  • Currently teaching math and science to students in grades 6-7
  • High school environmental science teacher, 2008-2009
  • High school public speaking teacher, 2007-2009
  • Grade 5 classroom teacher, 2006-2007
  • Grade 6 team leader, 2007-2010. As team leader, I developed “Week Without Walls” itineraries for groups of over 60 students to the Mekong Delta in 2007 and 2009. As team leader, I also fostered grade level professional development, cross-curricular projects, targeted student concerns, and worked as liaison between administration and team members. 2007-2010
  • Developed online study guides for math and science to enhance curriculum transparency, scaffolded learning and targeted instruction.
  • Designed and improved math assessments and assessment practices which contributed to grade 7 students’ algebra readiness by 50% and improved RIT scores on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing.
  • Served on the school’s curriculum adoption committee for math and science, which resulted in school-wide scope, sequence and alignment for math and science in K-12.
  • Developed more than 50 curriculum maps using Understanding by Design (UBD) curriculum mapping for math and science, high school speech communications and environmental science.
  • Facilitated 1:1 laptop instruction in math and science using a variety of software programs such as wikis, blogs, and organizational platforms such as Moodle, Google Apps and other web 2.0 software.
  • Differentiated instruction for mixed ability classrooms for both math and science.
  • Integrated systematic reading and writing traits in both math and science which led to improved RIT scores on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing.
  • Co-authored WASC Self Study document for curriculum and student outcomes assessment, contributing to school accreditation in 2008 and 2011, Saigon South International School.
  • Created “X Perience Science” an online science collaboration for middle school scientists to post experiments, conduct peer reviews, publish their findings and target inquiry standards. 2009-Present
  • Developed and implemented activities for the middle school student advisory program to support academic, social and career development.
  • Coached middle school boys’ basketball for five years, and developed a highly competitive program within the Mekong River International School Association (MRISA) conference (8 international K-12 schools in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand). Accompanied teams to international tournaments in Southeast Asia for sports events, Saigon South International School.

 

Teacher, Lanna International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand 2002 –2006

  • Taught math and science to students in grades 6-8.
  • Grade 1 classroom teacher, 2002
  • Taught environmental science to students in grade 12, 2005-2006
  • Planned and hosted the Chiang Mai city-wide chess tournament for international schools, 2003, 2004, Chiang Mai Thailand.
  • Developed the school sustainable gardening/composting program, Lanna International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2005.
  • Coached high school track and field, basketball, and elementary soccer, Lanna International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

 

Teacher, Catalina Environmental Leadership Program, Two Harbors, CA, USA 2000-2002

  • Taught earth and biological science modules on topics of astronomy, underwater and terrestrial ecosystems, and microbiology to K-12 students in a residential island camp.
  • Facilitated teambuilding and high-ropes challenges.
  • Developed a new “Wilderness Survival” module.

 

Environmental Science Teacher & Volunteer, Americorps, San Luis Obispo, CA 2000 – 2001

  • Taught lessons on earth science and water conservation to students in area high schools and community centers.
  • Conducted erosion control measures and steps toward eradication of invasive plant species along local waterways.
  • Collected data as a research assistant for subsidiary groups within the California Department of Natural Resources.
  • Presented weekly seminars at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.

 

RECENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
  • “10 tips and tricks to engage students with mathematics and formative assessments” 2012-Presenter
  • “Web 2.0 tools to use in your classroom”-2012
  • “The Math Workshop-Knowledge Source Institute”-2011
  • “Critical Friends Groups-How to refine assessments an develop school policy” 2010 to the Present-Facilitator

 

Curriculum Vitae Gary R. Johnston

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