Teachers reveal their views on teaching

Katie Campbell

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Photo by Katie Campbell

English teacher Marc Waldman assists a student with an English assignment on his Chromebook. Waldman encourages questions and participation in the classroom. “I just hope that people always realize that they can approach me, and if I can’t help them, I guarantee you, I know someone who can,” Waldman said.

As soon as you step into room 228, you are immediately enveloped by the brightly colored Spongebob decor adorning the classroom walls. This cheerful look was inspired by a Spongebob obsession belonging to math teacher Justin Brian Fraser. Just as each student is unique in their learning methods and interests, teachers are unique in their instructional methods as well. Fraser’s room is an authentic representation of his personality and teaching style.

Each educator has distinctive ideals and values in their classrooms. Science teacher Dr. Terri Ravick’s goal is to give her students fundamental skills to carry on into the real world and their lives after high school.

“If you know how to learn, you can do anything. You can be successful. You also have to be a hard worker. Knowing how to learn and being able to give students that ability to learn how to learn, I know if I can do that for them, I’ve set them up for life,” Ravick said.

Participation and engagement are also crucial aspects of learning in the classroom. They are the characteristics Fraser values most and applies to his lessons through a variety of activities.

“I am big into helping each other. I love people going to the board… I have a big participation program where [students are] trying to earn a pizza party at the end of the quarter. Work together, help each other, ask questions. Those are my big rules,” Fraser said.

As for English teacher Marc Waldman, a good work ethic is vital for success after high school.

“You have to understand that even though you might not want to do something, when you get out in the world, you still have to do it. You may have a job with a boss who’s going to ask you to do something that is within reason, but that you don’t want to do… if you don’t do it, you lose your job. That’s how the world works,” Waldman said.

Educating high schoolers is a difficult profession, but teachers endure it for a reason. While they expect kids to learn from their teaching, they also learn from their students. Throughout 23 years of experience, Fraser realized he could use comedy in the classroom to his benefit.

“That’s the big thing. To be more laid back. If someone [is] talking in class you don’t have to deal with it right then or there. You can use humour and be laid back and work with students. And the closer the relationship you form with them, the easier it’s gonna be,” Fraser said.

As one of the most notorious teachers for her strictness and upright demeanor, Ravick has learned how to handle criticism and complaints from students.

“The lesson I always taught my daughters was you’re gonna like some teachers and you’re not gonna like some teachers, and it really doesn’t matter, because you’re there to learn and get everything you can from that teacher regardless of whether you like them or not. Your job is to make sure you get everything, you take everything from them. Cause you’re gonna move on and you’re still gonna be there. So it doesn’t matter if students like you or don’t like you. Their job is to suck you dry. Get all kinds of information. Get all kinds of strategies, get all kinds of tips. Get all kinds of things that can help them,” Ravick said.

In his 20 years of teaching, Waldman has also realized that he must adjust quickly and efficiently in the classroom.

“One size doesn’t fit all. I’ve always been a fairly flexible person, but you really have to be flexible. The biggest thing that you have to remember when dealing with teenagers is that the predictable thing about teenagers is that they are wildly unpredictable, and something that worked yesterday isn’t necessarily gonna work [today],” Waldman said.

Whether they are strict or laid back, stern or relaxed, each teacher brings their own one-of-a-kind personality and methods to the table.

“I think our styles have everything to do with our personalities. So some teachers are really very outgoing, and like really out there, they’re very demonstrative, and they play games, and that’s who they are. And so that’s unique because that individual is unique. So I think our styles are really reflective of the type of people that we are,” Ravick said.