Teacher Interview #4

Can you tell us about why you wanted to become a teacher?

  • Give back to society. Hopefully make a difference in improving things, educating people. Also had really good teachers, especially social studies teachers who were excited about what they were teaching.
  • I value education, I think society should value education. I wanted to be a part of that.

 

Can you tell us about why some of your favorite teachers were your favorite teachers?

  • 8th grade American History – high energy, enthusiasm for American history made that class my favorite.
  • Energy and passion of teachers.
  • Many of them had legitimate intellectual curiosity about what they were teaching. AP US History teacher did his own historical research. Had us do a project where we had to conduct own personal research. Had to go to historical society, hands on sifting through primary source documents. Getting involved in the history. Mix of energy and passion and enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity. Also the ability to relate what we were talking about in class to real life – this is how you see it, this is how it impacts you.

 

Can you tell us about your first day of teaching?

  • Nervous. Went over syllabus. 5 sections of global studies and a section of European studies. Syllabus was 20 pages wrong. Looking back on it, it was ridiculous. Nothing but rules and policies and how everything is going to work. Now my syllabus is 2 pages. First day as new teacher, I was so about “this is how things are going to work”. Trying to have control over situation because I was so nervous.

 

When you actually started teaching, was it as you expected it to be?

  • Yeah. Maybe harder than I expected. First couple of years for everyone are harder. You’re coming up with everything for first time. First couple of years are very hard. Up late preparing.

 

How do you think your teaching methods have evolved over the years?

  • Depends on the class. Human Geography is so current, so integration of new information always happens in that class. In Euro, probably hasn’t changed that much. Longer you teach that course, better you get at making connections between material, cause and effect. Now, i don’t assign as much. What I assign now is a breeze to 12 years ago. Cut back a lot on a lot of written work. It’s not as necessary.
  • Look at social media, see how people can fall for misinformation. For example, bias in primary documents. Need to be able to recognize that and in everyday life and form own opinions. Job of social studies teacher is more important and more imperative than when I started teaching.

 

What is your favorite part of your day?

  • Interacting with people. I love what I teach. Being able to talk about that and have discussions in class, that’s my favorite part of my day.

 

What is your least favorite part of your day?

  • Grading. I don’t like grading. I don’t think any teacher likes grading. Especially when there’s piles of it and it’s hovering over you.

 

When do you feel like you’re being most effective?

  • When I’m able to connect whatever it is we’re talking about in class with real life. It’s not always easy. Some things are easier to connect than others. Like the Enlightenment. We are what we are today because of it. Easy to make that connection. When it’s difficult, don’t feel as effective as when I can’t do that.

 

What do you feel your responsibilities are as a teacher?

  • A lot of them. If really general, create a classroom that is comfortable, safe, always working, learning, talking. And, ultimately being AP classes, to make sure students perform well on the test. Lots of other little things too. Like attendance. Grading, communication with parents, emailing people.  Administrative things. Daily things. Safe, comfortable classroom is more important.

 

How important is curiosity to you?

  • Very important. That’s what education is all about. I like being curious. Always adds, not just information but different perspectives. Need to always be curious and go outside of comfort zone and see things from different angles and perspectives. Students who are more curiosus will likely benefit more. If you’re not curious, learning feels like a ask, like a job. Figuring out how to get round that is one of the central problems, isn’t it?

 

Sometimes big, cumulative tests, like an AP exam, can make learning more difficult because it’s all focused on the test. It makes learning less enjoyable at school. But in all of the AP social studies courses I’ve taken here, I haven’t felt like that and loved my time learning in these courses. How do you create that environment, despite the test?

  • I get to decide grading system inclass. So, I don’t attach 80 percent weight to your tests. The second you do that, there’s the pressure. Even when I teach AP, I’ve always been a big believer in you grade should come from a variety of opportunities. Because everybody has different strengths. Doesn’t always necessarily have to be a high stakes test. I also don’t give a lot of tests. It’s not like we have a weekly test. I essentially give two tests per marking period. That’s probably part of it.

 

Did you enjoy school as a student?

  • Yes.
  • Middle school was very different than high school. Middle school was more hands on. Really enjoyed middle school classes. In science, for example, took trips, used microscopes, went to streams and took samples. In 8th grade, I was part of a model rocket club. In astronomy, rocket club built rockets and launched them. That kind of hands on stuff was good for me in middle school. High School was sort of like what highschool is today in that it was more reading, notetaking, lecture, discussion. With exception of math, i enjoyed everything. Liked reading, social studies. Liked content, learning, teachers. I liked school.

 

Do you feel like schooling has changed much since you were in school? Specifically high school?

  • Yes. Technology, has changed a ton. Now, can look anything up. Used to have to go to library and use encyclopedia to look things up. I also think your lives have changed. Students are asked to do so much. Not just in the classroom. When i was in highschool, you were asked to do you school work, and then you took things home, and then you did your homework. There wasn’t that pressure to do year round sports, and to do dance, and to do marching band, and be in three different clubs, and have a job, and do volunteer work. And the list goes on and on. It doesn’t do good for curiosity, people are so busy. Especially higher achieving students, They want to do everything. That has been a big change. I wasn’t as busy as all of you were in high school. And therefore, it left me a lot more time to be curious, I think and go beyond what was talked about in class or aht was homework. Now it’s like, i just finished one homework assignment and now I have to do the lab report, which is a 20 page lab report. And I’ll be working on that for the next hour and a half. Thats a big change.
  • The way I teach European history is not a whole lot different than I learned American history when I was in high school. I think a lot of things surrounding the classroom have changed though.
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