Matt McIntosh has been teaching for 9 years. He teaches at a continuation school. He teaches social science, government, U.S. History.
Listen to the podcast here.
What do you wish you had known before you started teaching?
Some of the practical aspects. Get your masters as soon as possible. Pretty much everywhere the faster you get those credits, the faster you are going to make money.
I don’t recommend going admin for the money. If its because you have passion for leading and administration, then do it, but if you are doing it for the money, it makes sense to be a teacher and get your masters degree.
Don’t spend your own money in your classroom. Schools have lots and lots of money. Nationwide, states are spending half their money on education.
I’ve found that if I go to my administrator and ask for money, they typically give it to me. Before you spend your own money trying to get classroom supplies, go and ask for it and fight for it.
I’ve also been able to apply for grants to get curriculum. It looks great on a resume and you get more money for what you need.
Don’t worry about the politics unless you want to be involved in that. I like working with the students.
The politics are always changing. When we have a new president, we get new things coming down the pipeline. Don’t get to attached or pay too much attention to things coming down the pipeline.
Don’t pay too much attention to the educational research. Some of the research isn’t that valid. Some of the methods researchers use aren’t correct.
Focus on what you know for students. I got caught up in some of this when I first got started teaching, and what really matters is what you’re doing in your classroom.
What are some of the things that you are doing well that you wish everyone else was doing?
One of the things I do well is that I focus on the things that I enjoy. I enjoy doing design or photography.
I create lessons with lots of images and pictures.
I find that that works well because I enjoy it. It bring passion to the lesson because students can tell that I am passionate about what I’m teaching. Focus on what works and what you enjoy.
There are lots of ways to reach students so pick one that you connect with students.
What are some of the things that you do to connect with students?
I work at a continuation school, so this is for students who are credit deficient.
I usually have about 20 students in a class.
The way that we feel like we make a difference is by creating a relationship with students. We need to find the way that they learn individually and provide an opportunity for them to be successful.
Another things that I feel makes a difference is chunking. It means breaking a big process into tiny little segments.
At our continuation site we do that really really well. Its all about relationships. Were on the same side.
That being said, those relationships need to have boundaries and be professional.
The only requirement to come to our school is credit deficiency, so we have students that are juniors and seniors.
It’s a voluntary school, but sometimes their parents make that choice for the students to come. We have students who are happy to be there since they are happy to have a chance to graduate and students who are really having a hard time and are not happy to be there for all kinds of reasons. Most of the kids are happy to be at the site by the time they finish.
There’s a lot less drama and less fights. All the kids interact with each other because there are only about 100-120 kids at the site.
What are your favorite books?
I read nonfiction, sociological books
The Power of One
I like all books, but these are some of my favorites!