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  • Scott Connelly

The Teacher I Strive To Be

The kind of teacher I believe I am. I am still very young in my teaching career in public education, but I have been teaching my whole adult life. Before going into education, I was a full-

time youth pastor, and I taught students twice a week

(Sundays and Wednesdays). My perspective may come from who I want to be as a teacher, more than I actually am, but this is where I hope I am working toward. I want to be a holistic teacher; I want students to be participants and not spectators in the process of education. I want students to engage in a manner that leads them to an application of what they are learning, and not just information they store in their head. I am firmly against education that leads to stagnation. I realize that not all education has an application for every student, and no matter how engaging you are not every student will see the point or have the same passion as the teacher, but I would at least like for students to see and grasp the usefulness of information. I have passion for math only because I hate it with all that I am (I took college algebra six times), but I understand and very thankful for the engineers that use algebra who design bridges that do not collapse, buildings that do not fall over, and roads that are designed to help cars from flying off it. I see myself holistic because emotion drives how I teach the information, and I am not just a loudspeaker for the information. I want my students to have positive experiences and praxis with the information I share, and I want to lead them to the answers and allow them to figure things out on their own. When I was in the classroom, I taught government and economics, and as part of class I spent extra time on areas that applied to our school’s demographics. My first year I discovered more than one third of my students had at least one parent incarcerated. Because of that I spent a lot of time on our criminal justice system. We spent a lot of time on the bill of rights, and they made a lot of connections to their lives. In economics, we spent a lot of time on financial literacy. I spent a lot of time on credit scores and budgets to help them have a better life than their parents. The last 9 weeks of the class they had what a budget project. They first had to write a small paper on what they wanted to do after graduation, what kind of training and education it would take to have that career and based on that information I gave them a salary. I used the Department of Labor website to get the average salary for that profession. I then made them search for a car to buy and a website to estimate the car payment and a real insurance quote on that car. They also had to find housing (a real house or apartment with monthly cost), banking information with benefits and fees, cell phone plan, student loan if going to college, food budget, utilities, gas budget and clothes and entertainment money. Several students started over when they realized their expenses and income was not lining up. I honestly hated teaching economics until I started doing this project. Most of my students would never invest in stocks or need to know about a global economy; most of them just needed a tangible way to do better than what they saw around them. I taught senior and many had no idea that everybody did not get food stamps or welfare money. Those are the types of things that shifted my perspective on how a teach. I had to give them a way to use the knowledge to make it matter to them. If the information is of no use to your student what is the point of teaching?

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