The Old Against the New

November 3, 2016

The happiness gleamed through their eyes. They shine with happiness for they were able to help a student learn something, which many are not able to say. The pure joy that the student reflected could compare to nothing. Nothing in the world would make a teacher as appreciated as they did in that one moment. This experience is what drives a teacher. It’s what makes their job theirs.

Two great examples of this are Joseph Spadafore, science teacher and Jessica Post, math teacher. They both work at FHC, but they came to the decision to become a teacher in completely different ways.

“I started teaching because I wanted a career that allowed me to keep learning about a topic that I am passionate about, and also for the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with others,” Spadafore said. “I can’t say I was necessarily inspired to become a teacher, but I was introduced to the idea through my mother, who teaches middle school science.”

While Spadafore knew he’d become a teacher, Mrs. Post didn’t. In fact, she never intended on becoming one.

“I was totally undecided after high school graduation,” said Post. “I went to GRCC then to Grand Valley. While at GVSU, I was originally going to major in PE and minor in math. My adviser told me that there was not the same demand for PE teachers as there was for female math teachers, so I flipped my major to Mathematics and minor to PE.”

Post explained that yes, she never thought she’d ever become a teacher, but seeing the light bulb turn on when a student who traditionally struggles makes the entire job enjoyable and worth it.

One topic both teachers easily agreed on was the choice to teach high school. Neither wanted to teach younger children. Spadafore defined his decision by saying “little kids are weird.” Post explained that she liked being able to teach a higher level of content, and being able to talk to high school students like actual adults makes the day so much better.

With their distinctive contrasts, both teachers hold similarities with their teaching styles. They both try their hardest to incorporate many learning styles to help students who learn in different ways compared to others. Spadafore and Post take their time to make sure that lessons differ from each other making sure there is a variety in the way the information is given to the students. They both agreed that this simple tactic goes a long way in the future and will reflect greatly upon the students in a wide range.

However, with such similarity comes differences and a big difference for these two teachers are phones and the new bring your devices initiative. Both have very distinctive ways of solving the issues of a phone being detracting and thought about this new initiative.

“Phones are difficult for me because I understand that they have become so ingrained into the way that we live,” Spadafore said. “I try to use technology for research purposes, often. However, if the phone is distracting to other students or not being used correctly, I have taken them away. Most of the time, especially with older students, I let them know that the time they are wasting on the phone will impact their performance in class, and leave it up to their discretion to put it away.”

“If they are being used when I am teaching and I see it, I will watch and see what the student is doing with it,” Post said. “Are they on it or are they just having out?  If they are using it, trying to hide it and use it, I will call them out on it and have them bring their phone up to me until the end of the hour.”

Spadafore stated that his thought of the bring your devices to school is a great tool when used correctly.

“There must be a purpose to use that device not just use it for the of ‘saying you used technology in the classroom,’” further explained Spadafore.

Post could have agreed more, but argued that “teachers are not trying to be jerks about having devices out. There is a time and a place for it. This all new to us and we are trying to please and incorporate as much as we can while still trying to teach.”

No matter what those differences or similarities may have between these two teachers, they both obey by a “golden rule.” The “golden rule” to take the time to build positive relationships with their students.

“Getting to know them on a personal level goes so much farther than one would think,” Spadafore said.

The rule that will help them become a good teacher who is someone who can read students body language and facial expressions and adjusts their teaching to meet the needs of the students. They try to be a teacher who can become not only flexible for their students, but a reliable person in that student’s life

“I sometimes look at my career and wonder why teaching?” said Post. “It is frustrating most of the time, and I find myself leaving work but still thinking and contemplating it. Things seem to have changed and are moving fast from teaching to the student to teaching to a test so students can perform well on standardized testing. It’s a struggle and a fight that many teachers face daily.

“But, even through all of this, I don’t have any regrets about becoming a teacher. Even if it is not what I decide to do for the rest of my life, the skills I’ve learned here are invaluable in anything I’d choose to do later on.”

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