As a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year, I will now have the opportunity to join with the other finalists at numerous appearances to advocate for the teaching profession, as well as working with current and preservice educators, across the state of Kansas. I look forward to the opportunities to speak with legislators, administrators, and community members across the state as part of this program.
Having met and spoke with teachers who have already been part of this program in the past, I have had the chance to see what a substantial impact being a finalist for Teacher of the Year can have on one's teaching styles.
As part of the banquet tonight, time was given to introduce each of the finalist teachers and describe some of the characteristics that made them suitable for finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year. After their introduction, time was given for each teacher to make some remarks about their role in education, their experiences in teaching, or what a typical day in their classroom might look like. Below, please find the comments I made in my time to expound upon my teaching experiences and what led me to choose a career in the teaching profession.
I had the opportunity with a summer job to work alongside Mr. Ferguson and Vern, a pair of my teachers I learned under just a few years before. We were setting roof joists on a shelter house in the Gypsum Hills of southern Kansas. As we worked, I had an opportunity to talk about my career path with Vern (Mr. Buell was far too formal a term for him to accept), my legendary and influential math teacher during my sophomore year. He didn't exactly share the secret of life, but made a funny comment about Mr. Ferguson, the social studies teacher who was working on the roof with us. He said "Now, Max is a social studies teacher, so we have to talk a little slower with all our measurin' so he can keep up."
With a few years teaching experience now under my belt, I'd like to try and paraphrase that comment: Teachers are all in this together. We can't just focus solely on how well a student can write a summary paper, or map out a chemical reaction, or solve an equation involving some really intimidating-looking fractions.
Regardless of their topic, time, or trade, I strive to make learning relevant to my students, whatever their background or career path. Learning experiences among my students can read almost like a collection of inside jokes, where "you had to be there." With the mentality that "we have fun, but we get stuff done," students take with them a collection of experiences we shared together.
I do have to admit, about a year ago when I had the chance to work on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house outside of Ottawa, Kansas, I was taken back to that day on the roof with Mr. Ferguson and Vern. I found myself working again on roofing joists, just down the wall from a pair of men who were working on the same task. When I heard them bickering about fractions and how to properly space some beams, I was ready to help them out. But like Vern said, I had to make sure to talk a little slower with all the measurin' so they could keep up."
I hope you look forward to hearing about my adventures as a part of the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team as much as I look forward to sharing them. Stay tuned.