Michael, First Year Teacher - 6th Grade Math & Science
"I think it’s very natural to want to be a teacher when you’re a kid. It’s one of the main professions you’re exposed to. In 6th grade, I had a teacher who didn’t connect with the students and was very cruel. He told my mom: "The reason why your son’s not doing well is because he has no friends." I believed him. But looking back? No. There were a lot of other factors here. He needed to take his job seriously and really dig. Here’s a job that I revere and always have. I thought this job deserves a lot more respect than it was given. Students, like myself who were quiet, were falling through the cracks. Maybe if this teacher had made the investment, he might have caught the problem or encouraged something better. I felt being a teacher was worth an intense work ethic. Over time, I figured out that’s where I wanted to spend my brain power."
“Mr. Ellis was my language arts teacher my senior year of high school. I give credit to him for planting the seed to teach and what I thought the job should look like. Every other class, the teacher told us what was correct. And the best you could do is memorize that. But every week, he’d introduce a controversial topic that rattled you. ‘You think you know how the world works? Let me throw this gray question out there, and you have to decide black or white.’ Kids were standing up and getting upset about physician-assisted suicide and how we decide what crime is too heinous for a juvenile to be tried. But his point was: You need to have evidence for your opinions. I’d walk away feeling ‘how did I learn so much and it didn’t feel like work?’ At the end, we had to write a paper. But I knew where I stood and could write and write and write. I did an activity reminiscent of that with my own class. I wanted them to understand claims, evidence, and response. I told them the Earth was too polluted to live on and gave them two other planets we could colonize. They had to decide which planet. Our house was divided. They really got into it and debated back and forth. ‘We can’t live there because the reptiles are poisonous!’ ‘But there’s no water on that planet!’ They could have gone on forever.”