Welcome to my website!
Here are some of the things we talked about on the first day of class. These are overriding principles in all of my classes. Each student should read all of the Boundaries and Guidelines. Students and Parents can read both columns of information here to get to know my teaching philosophy and what kind of attitude I like my classroom to have. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

My Teaching Philosophy:

The ancient philosophers, like Pythagoras and Nichomachus, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom, with wisdom being the truths about things. My philosophy of teaching centers around the discovering, understanding, and sharing of truth. It may not be earth-shattering to find out that “ten minus eleven is negative one”, but it is true. Science and mathematics offer a chance for a person to learn how to organize, discover and deal with truths.

 I see teaching—and therefore, learning—as a many-faceted activity, much like solving a Rubik’s cube. The different colors on the different sides must be aligned and oriented properly to reach the desired solution. If no care is given to how the pieces are combined, a literal mess results. Similarly, I believe there are many facets of teaching that need to be treated simultaneously. These facets of teaching/learning include the teacher, the students, the personal life of each student, the physical facility, the curriculum, the community, and the desires, goals and expectations that accompany all of the stakeholders involved.

When a part of any one of these elements is out of place, it automatically affects at least one of the other components. Only a partial solution of the puzzle is possible if one of the facets is ignored. It is my belief that if learning does not take place, that I have not taught. I can make plans and attempts at teaching, but if the knowledge and skills I am trying to impart to the students entrusted to my stewardship do not take root and begin to change their lives (or at least their perspectives) then I do not feel like I have “taught”. To me, teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin.

I try hard to respect my students and their efforts—to help give them an incentive to respect what I am going to tell them or lead them through. Without this trust and respect, learning (and therefore teaching) is hard to come by. I enjoy teaching. It makes me feel good to watch someone recognize a truth or gain a new skill. I believe that everyone can learn. Personal individuality allows for differences in pacing and styles of intelligence from person to person, but everyone—who is willing—can be taught.

The raw materials for teaching are important, like pencils, paper and textbooks, but I believe that a person has to be mentally prepared to learn, as well. Much like memory media must be formatted before data can be written to it; the mind of a learner must be formatted as well. I can help with some of this formatting, but some of it needs to come from you. You have to decide to be ready to receive knowledge and truth as they burst onto the scene. I once asked a student, whose truck engine had died several dozen feet from the driveway of the school parking lot, “I can push or steer, which one are you going to do?”  If I am prepared, I can teach anyone who will let me. It is up to me to learn as much as I can about the subjects I will teach. It is also my charge to learn as many different ways as I can to present the things I teach. Since individual learners are different, they may need different access points to the field of knowledge. I have a responsibility to try and make truth accessible to many different people. I believe it is a matter of personal integrity for me to do my best to be there when the learner appears.

I do not expect to be perfect; making and learning from mistakes is an important part of the learning process for me as well as for my students. Taking that look inside myself to see where I need to improve can be just as scary for me as it is for my students to take the risks of learning. To move out of the zone of “things I can do without any trouble” into the region of “things I might need help with in order to do right” is what learning and teaching are all about.

I teach because I want to, and I teach so that I can help. At the risk of sounding like a comic book cliché, I feel a sense of duty to use my powers for the cause of all that is good. On my toughest days, I picture myself wielding a sword in the never-ending battle against ignorance and apathy. I firmly believe that I have the ability to shape a significant part of tomorrow by training its heroes today. I feel a great sense of duty to bring my students to treasure truth, to engender trust and respect, and to help others overcome misconceptions and difficulties by sharing solutions to problems that exist now as well as new challenges that will arise.

Education is a powerful liberating force. It was said by Nichomachus, that happiness—the most worthy and fitting goal a man can reach for in life—can only be achieved if one can quantify and systematize the qualities of all things. This means, to me, that I teach in order to share happiness. I am happy and want to help others to be happy.

I have been helped, I can share, and I will teach.

Each student has the right to learn.

Each teacher has the right to teach.

Each class has the right to a meaningful educational experience

No one has the right to take away the rights of others.

I believe that all of my students can behave appropriately in my classroom, and are ultimately responsible for their actions.

I will tolerate no student stopping me from teaching and/or any student from learning


Boundaries & Guidelines

for Mr. Burrell’s class:

  1. Truth: yearn for it, learn for it, seek for it, stand for it, treasure it, keep it.
  2. Trust: an essential ingredient for any successful relationship: teacher-scholar, friend-friend, etc.
  3. Respect: the currency (along with Trust) that we save, share, bank on, contribute and spend in any and all relationships. Be careful of your gestures, words, actions and intentions. Disrespectful behavior can result in a loss of points and possibly other disciplinary action.
  4. Personal Best: your truest, most compassionate, empathetic, diligent, loyal, accurate version of yourself.  It is not measured by others or for others—it’s personal, it’s your best: your personal best.  You are good enough to do your best (and worth it, too)
  5. Personal Integrity:  the whole person, real, honest and true to themselves and what they believe in—not matter where, no matter when. A person who maintains their integrity has no holes in their hull.
  6. Active Involvement: a proactive person’s alternative to the Law of Entropy.  If you passively wait long enough, the path of least resistance will find you on it—going nowhere, the ultimate waste.  Make a choice to act, contribute and involve yourself in your own education.  Life and Learning are not bounded by the ringing of school bells, they transcend them as far as you allow. This also means that announcing that you are bored in the hopes that the teacher will cure you is an example of false hope. Not only is it not your teacher’s job to keep you from being bored, it might be impossible to “un-bore” you. Your attitude can only change when you allow it.
  7. Be on time. It is hard to say what you will miss if you miss class. Sure, there are lesson plans and syllabuses to give you the general idea, but what about everything else? Do you really know if a certain portion of class time is going to be worth missing? Time is a present, the present. Make a choice to spend it in a way that you will value now and later; take responsibility for your choice. Each day you attend Mr. Burrell’s class, you have the potential of earning two (2) citizenship points. A person who is tardy loses one of these points. A person who is absent from class can lose both points. Students who misbehave can also lose one or both of these points in a day.
  8. Be prepared. You will need something to write with and something to write on every day. It seems only reasonable to bring some representation of what we talked about last time (notes, homework and assignments, application stories, epiphanies)  In most cases, it will be hard to be actively involved if you do not have the text with you every time you expect to learn about its contents. Format your mind so that it can receive knowledge and truth as they burst onto the scene during class.
  9. Raise hand to contribute during direct instruction.
  10. Mr. Burrell’s BOUNDARIES AND STANDARDS include the CODE OF CONDUCT and all school-wide rules. So, these school rules and behaviors will be enforced in Mr. Burrell’s classroom, as well.  A house divided against itself cannot weather the storm.  Consider the fact that there are adults in your life who care enough about you to try and stack the odds of success in your favor.  If you want fair, go to the fairgrounds.  Life isn’t fair, it’s honest-that’s better.
  11. Talking is permitted if a scholar raises their hand, receives permission from the teacher and the ensuing conversation is edifying and/or contributory.
  12. Follow directions carefully the first time they are given.  It can help save you from appearing to be rude or clueless (or both).  Precious time is wasted in repeating something that was already delivered with the intention of being heard.
  13. Cheating is giving or attempting to give the impression that one knows something that they don’t. It is a distortion of reality.  Assisting another person to cheat may be considered cheating itself.  If it is not yours, claiming that it is limits your ability to trust and be trusted.
  14. “Thank you” should be used any time you receive something from somebody.  Neglecting to say “thank you” implies that you do not want the gift.  Certain people may be inclined to take it back, depending on the luster of the pearls, and the grunting of the swine.
  15. Cell phones, digital cameras, and other electronica which disturb, distract or disrupt (the three little brothers of ‘disrespect’) the educational process are not acceptable in class.  This even includes devices that allow wireless access to Youtube, Cha-Cha, Twitter or Facebook. Part of the teacher’s responsibility is to be a channel of important information for the students.  That’s why the front office addresses the teacher over the P.A. system during class.  That’s why Mr. Burrell may take away your phone or other electronic device if it disrupts or distracts during class. This includes disruptions caused by someone taking unauthorized pictures or capturing unauthorized video during class. Items that are confiscated during class can be retrieved later through the school’s administrative officers.  If someone who really needs to speak with you doesn’t know that you attend class, improve your relationship with them and let them know how much you value your education.  Share my educational philosophy with them if you feel like it.
  16. No talking or disruptive behavior will be tolerated during tests and quizzes.  Consequences for such behavior may include a zero score on the test or quiz for the person creating the disturbance.
  17. You may bring a bottle of water to class, rather than leave during class for a drink of water.  No drinks other than water may be brought to class. Food that disrupts the educational process will not be allowed in class.  Spills, wrappers and crumbs keep the class from operating more efficiently.
  18. Take care of yourself, build a large enough bank account of self-respect so that you can afford to pay attention.  If you are sick, allow yourself time to recover.  Eat healthy, balanced meals.  Go to bed and get up in a way that allows your body enough time to rest.  That way, you won’t be tempted to fall asleep in class.
  19. Your personal beauty doesn’t come from the outside.  Your inner beauty is like an infinite constant that you discover as you grow.  It isn’t changed by what someone else thinks of you.  You are already beautiful. There is no need to turn a classroom into a salon.  Save your nail polish, cosmetics, mirrors, brushes, eyelash curlers, hair-crimpers, shaving gear and other toiletries for another time.  Who you really are is what counts in this class, not who you look like.
  20. At the end of class and/or clean-up time, scholars return to their places after cleaning is completed, waiting to be dismissed by the teacher.  Assuming that learning is over just because the time is almost over can turn into a risky venture. (See number 7.) This also means that packing your things up too early can be a problem. Getting out of your chair and hovering around the classroom door without being dismissed by the teacher is not acceptable behavior in Mr. Burrell’s class.