Welcome to the engage2learn Leading Learners blog series! We asked students across the state of Texas to interview an educator on their campus.
Hear what Kilgore ISD student Leticia has to say about her Humanities teacher, Mr. Stanley.
It is an honor for me to introduce Mr. Stanley as my Humanities World Geography teacher. I have known Mr. Stanley since my freshman year in high school and consider him one of my favorite teachers. With a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Theology, Mr. Stanley’s knowledge has benefited me in many ways. I’m able to understand subjects and present them with more confidence. I asked him a few questions related to his career and personal experiences as an educator.
Why did you decide to work in education?
I actually decided to work in education because of the encouragement of my wife, who is also a teacher.
What success are you most proud of?
As a teacher, I think that I am most proud of the fact that I try to connect with my students beyond just the content of the class. I want to build a rapport that involves genuine concern and trust.
How do you challenge yourself in your profession?
I am continually learning new things and push myself to be more innovative with technology and more knowledgeable of educational practices.
What experience challenged you the most and what have you learned from it?
The most challenging experience I have had so far was probably coaching tennis. As a new teacher, I did not train for coaching sports and have not played competitive tennis in many years. However, I had a great head coach that quickly got me caught up on the game and it turned into one of my favorite experiences.
The reason this is important to me is that many of the principles for coaching are very applicable to the classroom. I sometimes view myself as a classroom coach more than a “teacher.” I want students to feel that I am helping them learn and improve learning skills as much as simply teaching them facts about a topic.
What advice would you give to students to prepare them for college and career?
Don’t limit yourself. Learn as much as you can and be open to trying new things. Thinking outside the box may mean that you need to consider non-traditional ways to approach your career choices.
Who inspires you and why?
I get inspiration from many people. My father is the first one to come to mind. He continually challenges and encourages me. Also, my students inspire me. Especially when they come up with creative ways to solve problems.
Tell us about your experiences working with students at this age level.
I have been working with high school students in various capacities for over 30 years. These experiences include being a youth pastor, boys home counselor, coach, CPS worker, volunteer, and educator.
I am currently teaching high school sophomores. They are mostly 15-16 years old. This is a challenging age and stage for high schoolers, so every day is a unique experience. However, my most memorable experiences and joys have to do with the rapport I have with my students. I like it when we can talk about personal things. Many of them come from broken homes, many are starting to drive and work. They are starting to think more about their future, among many other things. So, I want to be a good listener and show that I really care.
How do you motivate your students to become active learners in your classroom?
I try to motivate my students by challenging them to own their education. I don’t want to just hold their hand and spoon feed them facts. I try to answer questions with questions and encourage them to find solutions on their own.
What four words would students use to describe your teaching strategies?
Collaborative, Projects, Independent, Innovative
Describe the management strategies and techniques you use to maintain an effective classroom environment.
I try to establish a classroom with mutual respect. I show the students respect and expect them to show the same to each other and to me. I believe that the best way to maintain the environment of the classroom is to provide activities and topics that are challenging and relevant to the students. I have very few discipline problems because I try to be reasonable with the student that I see is in need of correction and re-direction.
What differences do you see in your morning students versus the afternoon classes?
Afternoon classes are definitely more unsettled and talkative.
How are assessments designed to promote learning rather than simple measurement?
Many of my assessments are based on the products they create that demonstrate their knowledge. So, rather than just getting a numerical grade for some paper test, students use their knowledge of the subject to create something.
How do you teach students to solve problems?
We use inquiry based learning methods that create each unit around a driving question. We also try to encourage students to be aware of and proactive in addressing modern problems and issues. Even on a smaller scale, I try to encourage students to work out everyday minor issues on their own with creativity and critical thinking.
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