Story of a Student turned Teacher This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 26, 2010
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Did you ever wonder what it is like being a teacher in a school where you were once a student? Running into old teachers, having odd conversations, and moving to the other side of the room could all cause extremely awkward situations. Would you give easier tests or fewer assignments?

Mr. Blue is an ex-student at Roslyn High School. He recently graduated from Columbia Teacher’s College. He was as substitute teacher at Roslyn and Manhasset before getting a permanent teaching job half way through the year at Roslyn. I recently sat down with him to see how he has transitioned to the other side of the classroom.

Ethan: Why did you want to become a teacher?

Mr. Blue: I was inspired by my past teachers. They showed me how rewarding and exciting sharing knowledge is with my students and they showed me that being a teacher is such a gratifying occupation.

E: What led you to become specifically a social studies teacher? Are there any past teachers that influenced you to become a social studies teacher?

B: I always viewed social studies as a powerful tool that could be used in someone’s life. It lets people engage in critical thinking and it can be used throughout someone’s everyday life. Some past teachers that influenced me were Mr. Mumma, Mr. Davis, and Mr. Coggin. They were amazing teachers who showed me how amazing the world of social studies could be.

E: Why did you become a teacher within Roslyn?

B: I was very fortunate. After I graduated from Columbia Teacher College this summer, I was looking for a job. I was teaching as a sub in Roslyn and Manhasset. When Ms. Kim went out, they asked me to fill in for her. I was extremely fortunate to get that type of opportunity.

E: Did your experiences as a student, cause you to become a teacher?

B: Mr. Mumma’s class in 10th grade always made me think more about how the world worked and that is what really helped me to become a teacher.

E: If so, is there a specific moment that you remember that influence you most?

B: One memory really pushed into the world of teaching more then anything else. In Mr. Mumma’s in 10th grade, he would always talk about the Pendulum of Politics of Society. He put fascism and socialism on the opposite sides of the pendulum. They would be opposite philosophies, but how they would ultimately end up on the same path. That was the eureka moment for me. Mr. Mumma talked about the circle of society and that is what really pushed me into the field of teaching.

E: Is it odd to be a teacher in the school in which you were once a student?

B: There are some odd moments. The first day being on the opposite side of the classroom was a little odd. Most of the time though, it is very normal and I am treated very kindly by all of the other teachers, and I am treated as an equal

E: If so, what odd moments have you encountered as a teacher?

B: It’s not really one moment, but that when ever I see any of my old teachers. I can call most teachers by their first name, but I can never call Mr. Mumma, Mr. Davis, or Mr. Coggin by their first names.

E: Do you still feel like a student in the school or do you feel like a teacher?

B: My mindset is definitely more like being a teacher. Acting like a student would create the wrong feeling in my classroom. It wouldn’t feel normal if I was talking on the same level as my students and I didn’t try to teach my class in a productive way.

E: Why do you feel more like a student/teacher?

B: I feel more like a teacher because my ex-teachers really helped me realize how I have to act. The period of when I was a sub really gave me a chance to learn what it is like to be a teacher and that really helped me in the end.

E: Do you think you resemble any teaching styles or tendencies your previous teachers once had?

B: I think I resemble some of my teachers’ tendencies, but I think I differ the most by giving more notes and going over them more. I think it is important for teachers to give notes to make sure that the student’s understand and can do better on tests. The style I resemble most is all of my teachers asking questions. They always asked info question, analytical questions, and connection questions and I think they really helped me.

E: If so, why and how do you think you resemble them?

B: I think I resemble them because I was in their class for a year of my life. Their ideas and tendencies would rub off on me and I think that it is a positive thing. It has made me a better teacher because of being in their classes.

E: Do you take your experience as a student into account when you give assignments?

B: I do to an extent. I try to think about what was fair to me at the time. I don’t want to give an assignment that I feel wouldn’t be fair to myself.

E: Are there any memories you have that experience your assignments? How?

B: The research papers in 9th grade social studies really had an impact on me. I never did anything like those papers before. The joy of handing in a seven page paper really made me think that the work was worth it even though I may have thought the work may have been an overload. The assignment that had the most impact was in Mr. Davis’s class. He gave us a create-your-own-DBQ. I think that was an overload of work and that it could have been toned down a little bit. It did teach me a lot about social studies though.

E: Do your tendencies when giving and grading tests reflect your own experience as a student?

B: Not really. I hope that I can have an objective point of each test. I usually use a rubric, which has all of the point values listed out so I can have clear standards and so my grading can be fair.

E: If so, how is it a reflection of your time as a student?

B: This can be a reflection of my time as a student because I usually give the benefit of the doubt. If a student tried to convey an idea in a paragraph, but they missed by a little bit, I will try to give them as much as they deserve, but I won’t give a person extra points based on my time as a student.

E: Are you a better teacher in Roslyn for being a student here first?

B: I think it helps. I think that other teachers don’t understand the mentality of the students and I think that gives me a little bit of insight on the students will do work.

E: If so, how did being a student make you a better teacher?

B: Being a student first gives me a certain comfort level with the students. It started as a sink or swim situation and being a student really helped me have the ability to get going and not sink.

E: Will you ever leave Roslyn to take up a job in another school system?

B: I can’t really answer that right now. It all depends on the circumstances.

E: How would being a student affect your decision to stay or leave Roslyn?

B: I think being a student first would encourage me to stay. I have a level of comfortability her that I may not have anywhere else.

E: Is it better to be a student or a teacher in Roslyn? Why?

B: I think there are good things about both, but I think being a student is better. They get to work with top level educators, they get to acquire skills they wouldn’t get to acquire anywhere else, and I think that it is an exciting time to be a student in Roslyn. Being a student is just excellent and fantastic.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Thorunns said...
Sept. 12, 2012 at 9:07 am
The subject of the interview and his comments were very interesting, but I felt that there was a disconnect between the interviewer and interviewee. A lot of the time it was obvious that the subject had just received a list of questions to answer instead of the article being a real conversation.
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm
Good article! It was interesting. Also, my mom was a second-grade teacher to this girl named Barbara Koenig, and now she has grown up and works with my mom; she also house-sat for us the other day. Apparently, it was a little hard for her to get used to being in the teacher's lounge and calling her former teacher by her first name, but she's "gotten over it".
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