Jan 09, 2018 04:08PM ● Published by Caley Breese
Photo by Tony Lewis, Jr.
Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, Baltimore
Years teaching overall: 6
Years at Boys’ Latin: 4
Currently teaching: 8th grade English; 8th grade Dean; 8th grade Head Lacrosse Coach; Assistant 7/8th grade Football Coach
Proudest Teaching Moment: “We have an 8th grade speech program at Boys’ Latin, and the boys write their speeches in class with me. It’s tough for them to figure out what they want to talk about, and scary too since most of them haven’t spoken to large audiences before. Some boys really buy into this and end up revealing some incredible insights into their lives and experiences.
My proudest moment is when I see a boy give a speech of appreciation to a family member. Oftentimes, their family members and classmates are unaware of what is coming, and the raw emotion that is seen from both the speaker and the audience is incredibly powerful to me. To see a boy take a rough, written idea, and transform it into a powerful and emotional speech is when I am most proud.”
Teaching Philosophy: “My teaching philosophy revolves around humor, honesty, and flexibility. I think humor is a way to crack even the hardest of student ‘shells,’ and it can be a fantastic equalizer between students and teachers. Humor can also be a valuable teaching tool. Sometimes, rather than verbally disciplining them, I find that humorously bringing to light the reality of their behavior can be an impactful tool for redirection. Honesty is big for me as well. To start the year, I show the boys a slideshow with pictures of my family, information about my life experiences, and some pictures from my summer adventures. While some teachers might not be comfortable with the sharing of that “personal” information (which I totally understand), I have found that this ‘we are all human’ approach helps to knock down some student walls. Flexibility is more of a subject-based philosophy for me. Each year I try to tap into which sections of a novel the boys latch on to, and I modify my units based on where their compass points. This flexibility is huge in terms of keeping the boys hungry for more, and letting them have some control of the ship.”
Toughest challenge facing educators: “I’m going to chop this into two challenges. Outside of the classroom, we are faced with occasional scorn because ‘we get summers off.’ Yes, some teachers do take the well-deserved summer off, and our compensation reflects that. But most teachers that I know have to work in the summer just like anyone else so that we can make ends meet. That negative stigma about teachers not working as hard or as long as other jobs really disappoints me, and I wish it was easier to make clear that arguing ‘you have summers off’ is a dated claim that isn’t reflective of the pride and long hours that this job requires. Inside the classroom, we are faced with a student population who is increasingly spending their free time staring at a screen. I think there is a lot of advantage to adapting teaching tactics by using iPads and laptops, but I also think there’s a fine line between technology being a part of the class, and technology being the whole class.”