My Teaching Philosophy
There is an old adage that says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." I believe this applies to teaching. Students are not pupils who sit in classrooms to be filled with knowledge. They are complex people, with situations and experiences outside of school that affect both their ability and desire to learn. The best way to reach any child, regardless of their age or situation, is to develop a relationship of trust and mutual respect. The best way to teach a child is to treat him or her as an individual.
As a teacher, my overarching goal is to elicit in my students the same excitement I feel for history. My approach is always from the human perspective, with the intention of teaching not only relevant historical information, but also life lessons. As is the case in many subjects, secondary history students readily and frequently ask – What’s the point? I believe students are justified in asking this question and teachers must have an answer, not only for their students but also for themselves. If history is not taught with relevance, it is a waste of time. This makes the human element essential.
History has the potential of humanizing us in ways offered by few other academic areas (Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unusual Acts). This humanization is inherent in the study of history because it is ultimately the study of human nature. When the human element is disconnected from history, it becomes an un-relatable assortment of isolated events and dates that stand divorced from human agency or intentions. However, when married to its human element, history becomes not only relatable, but also relevant. To achieve this, the questions must go beyond simply asking what, when, and where to also asking why and what would I have done. I tell the story. This approach instills empathy and tolerance as students see historical figures as real people who faced real problems and choices not so distant from their own. This is why I became a history teacher.
Box Elder Middle School
While at Box Elder Middle School in Box Elder School District, I got to experiment in standards-based grading. The two teacher teams I worked with here (US History and Geography) were wonderful! Box Elder has an amazing and supportive administration that truly care about student success - not just in school but also in life.
During my time here, I learned a lot about how teachers intentionally developing classroom culture. I loved returning to middle school and working with students in that age group.
2017 - 2019
Lone Peak High School
My time at Lone Peak was a wonderful opportunity to grow professionally. I worked with a fantastic team of US History teachers. After attending Solution Tree's RTI At Work, we determined to re-work both our curriculum and assessments. For the curriculum, we identified the essential information - the information with enduring qualities that we would test to mastery. In addition, we changed our assessments from the standard trivia-based questions to skills-based and thematic questions.
By cutting back on the amount of material we tested, we actually freed ourselves to teach more and, especially, more in depth. By focusing on skills, it was much easier to justify what we were teaching and rarely heard students ask, "Why do we have to learn this?" or "How is this going to benefit my life?" It also encouraged students to think critically and "do" history.
Lakeridge Jr. High School
I was fortunate to start my teaching career as an intern at Lakeridge Jr. High School in Orem, Utah. At the completion of my internship year, I moved into a full-time position. During my time there, I taught Utah Studies (7th Grade), Leadership Skills (7th Grade), English Lab (7th Grade, remedial), US History I (8th Grade). I also volunteered as a time keeper during track meets and supervised the Adobe and video game FLEX activities (enrichment activities).
Lakeridge Jr. High is a PLC school and firmly believes that every student can achieve success. Lakeridge was named a National Blue Ribbon School and recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School for the 2013-2014 award year. The Blue Ribbon Program honors schools which "achieve high levels of performance or made significant improvements in closing the achievement gap."