I have to come clean, my first pursuit was not education. After assisting Dr. Bruce Adams on my third tooth extraction, I took off my surgical mask, packaged my last dental cast, and hugged the staff in a heartfelt goodbye. I had just completed my sixtieth hour of a dental internship that would all but conclude my undergraduate education. I was flying high, meeting my wife-to-be earlier that year and finishing that final semester with a 4.00 GPA. At the time, I was heading off to dental school. Fast forward 12 years, and I would not have it any other way. I absolutely love being an educator and a lot of amazing things have happened in my life along the way.
I have always enjoyed working with youth, and I had done a lot of coaching sport especially ice hockey; which at one point was my life’s ambition. Secondly, my wife, who started teaching at an amazing school in Las Vegas, Nevada inspired me to join the profession. I would help out, spending countless hours at her school, secretly thriving on the intrinsic rewards of teaching, learning and building small meaningful relationships with everyone on campus. During this time we were starting our family. With the vision of someday working internationally, I enthusiastically went back to university to earn a master’s degree in teaching and I began substitute teaching at inner city Secondary Schools around the valley. I had discovered my life’s calling – to be a positive influence in my students lives.
I continue striving to become a teacher who is respected and remembered. My students are engaged in exploring the truth, asking questions and developing their own educated opinions. My job is to provide each student with the skills to be a successful eager learner. I achieve this by developing relationships, providing authentic learning, modeling and teaching positive dispositions.
Authentic learning is the best way to foster excitement in science. First a teacher must have strong content knowledge. My extensive education in science and love for the subject enables me to provide authentic learning for students. Engaging students in inquiry based learning, promoting exploration, encouraging discussion, and facilitating hands-on activities motivates students. This style of experiential learning allows me to meaningfully connect concepts and relationships that are relevant to the real world and meaningful to my students. Creating this type of learning environment empowers students to teach themselves, think critically, problem solve and take ownership since the learning is student driven.
Having a positive relationship with colleagues creates a cultural environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. These strong working relationships promote meaningful professional development, best practice sharing, and an overall building of success in the community. Additionally taking the time to develop an individual relationship with each student enables me to provide the best educational experience. By creating unique relationships with my students I can help them make connections to their lives and perspectives. This is how they will become and stay motivated. Knowing the students personally allows me to truly differentiate instruction, create productive collaboration, provide student choice in learning, and gain accurate formative assessments of achievement. Finally, a positive relationship and open communication with parents and the community has helped me meet individual needs. Parents know their children best so I can capitalize on their knowledge by creating a team where the parents and I work towards what is in the interest of the student.
Modeling strong positive dispositions and a genuine love for learning becomes contagious in my classroom. As a teacher I am excited to explore new theories, develop and test new hypotheses’ and persist to formulate scientific explanations. My school day extends well beyond the bell; planning and preparing along with teacher self-reflection make my precious time with students count. I also believe it is important to stay involved in afterschool activities. This solidifies the importance of community and building relationships.
Thus through authentic learning, positive relationships, modeling and teaching positive dispositions I am able to help my students gain their maximum potential. And they may not even know that I am so thankful to earn their appreciation and respect as an invaluable reward.
As I move along this educational journey I feel drawn into leadership but not yet ready to leave the classroom behind….