What is found at the root of any school system in the world? No matter where you look, the answer will always be education. Math, Science, Social Studies, all the topics that children and adults alike may need to learn to start and advance further in their lives. Yet, who is really in charge of delivering that education to kids? Being the head of the school, most may assume the principal, or even the board of education. No, neither truly give kids the knowledge that they need themselves, not the head of the schools, but the heads of the classrooms, the teachers.
Westmount Charter School
While there is truth in the fact that principals and education boards may run the schools and what is taught, but teachers are truly the bringers of that knowledge to children. Without teachers, bringing this education to kids would become a disaster, and many teachers find joy in their profession, which is the reason many choose to become one. Teaching can be a tiring and difficult area of work, though, which is why background knowledge into the field, especially when given by a teacher with experience themselves, is so important.
Mark Knoll, a current teacher at Westmount Charter school, could be easily described as such a teacher with this experience. Knoll started teaching at the school four years ago in 2010, following a placement, him being a student teacher. He found Westmount the perfect school, based on his opinions of not only the school, but the students within. “…I knew I had discovered that this particular group of students resonated with me, and that I fit really well with the school and its philosophies.”, Knoll states. The information that Knoll will give, about his experiences and his own advice, could surely be a great help to any looking for a career in teaching or looking at finding a career in general, and hopefully this information can help these people on their way.
Many people that would wish to become a teacher themselves first experience a moment where they realize that they truly want this position. Mark Knoll is certainly no exception to this, and his own reasoning may even fit with the ideology of rising educators. This moment for Knoll was the realization of the importance of family ties. “My wife and I were talking about a career that suited a family,” he explains. “and I kept coming back to the idea of motivating and inspiring a new generation of young people.” With his thoughts on coaching out of the question, he realized the possibility of a position in education. “…[teaching] seemed like a viable option for me to pursue my passion for English literature, and for inspiring a new generation of people.”
Though most all jobs have an effect on this aspect somewhat, the idea of changing views in a person is hugely affected by the educator role. Just to name a few that would most likely be examples if one were to pursue this job are the ideas of teaching, education, and the views of the people behind the teacher’s desk themselves. Knoll was not shy to explain his own thoughts on how teaching has affected views of his own. “…I am surrounded by highly motivated and exceptionally talented teachers that inspire and motivate me on a daily basis.”, Knoll shares about his new views on the idea of teaching itself. “I am not sure that I would be pushed as hard to innovate and inspire my students in any other setting.”
Besides teaching, another view a teacher may experience changes within is the aspect of education itself. Mark himself came across this change in his own career when changing the grade level that he taught at, to mid-school from a high-school levell. “Since I have shifted to middle school teaching, my focus has become less centred on academics, and more concerned about the holistic development of my students.” Knoll includes in his explanation. “ I include a fair measure of physical activity into my day, and try to have lots of fun while [instilling] critical elements from the curriculum as well.” Knoll gives an impression of a teacher that can truly appreciate both mental, and physical aspects of life into his classroom, and it shows that the sky is the limit when it comes to what teachers can accomplish in a classroom.
“I have been greatly impacted by my teaching at Westmount.”, Knoll affirms when asked about his own views, how he himself has changed based on his teaching position. Knoll answered in how the career has given a new light to how he sees his own self, specifically in an athletic perspective. “ I understand some of the character traits that helped enable me to thrive as an athlete, but I also recognize some of the behaviours that limited my performance as an athlete. I do not think I would have gained this self-awareness in any other setting.” Through his own teaching, Mark Knoll experienced a new perspective when looking at his own self, not only in an athletic way, but in an educational, and personal way as well.
The teaching career Knoll has taken on makes him well-versed in answering many questions that would be a great asset to young or beginning teachers. Possibly the most important one is his thoughts on the traits needed by a good teacher. “I guess patience is one of the first things you need.”, Knoll attests. “Much like students, they [have a] strong sense of curiosity that would drive your learning… So [there is] a sense of curiosity on a teacher’s behalf as well, to be willing to pursue beyond the…status quo and what is sort of offered…” Not surprisingly, Knoll also had specific traits of his own that aided him in the start of his career as well. “I had a strong intellectual background which helped…a strong sense of background knowledge in your field of teaching I think is a real asset as well, but patience, curiosity, good decision-making skills…”Knoll also believes that teaching lends itself to improvement through experience, in the way of difficult decisions needing to be made and learning how to do so better in the future. Also, that a teacher’s own “sense of direction” will be able to help them decide what they need to work on in school systems, no matter where they may be, according to the students themselves, etc.
While Knoll does believe specific traits would need to be honed in different teaching environments besides his own, he also believes no matter where you are, teaching in itself is a gift to those who work at it. “Teaching’s a very rewarding occupation and it comes with many benefits…as well.”, Knoll confirms. “When you have a family I think it’s a pretty unique job in which you could spend a lot of time with your family and yet be rewarded both intellectually and as a person…I think it’s still a really important role that not everyone is willing to play or not able to play…”
While his own school environment is one, Knoll has separate reasons as to why being a teacher is an enjoyable thing, this taking place outside of his own classroom environment that he is used to. “I might pick one of the things [that is] extra-curricular like coaching that is one of the most satisfying. It’s really satisfying of course to bring a student further in their writing, which is part of my passion, but connecting with students outside of the classroom is a really interesting thing too, and getting to know them a little bit differently outside is enlightening as well…” Knoll believes an educational, but still recreational connection between him and his students is a large asset. “…I think it’s so vital to have positive leadership in areas, outside of academics, particularly in this setting, to offer some health and wellness aspects as well.”, Knoll relates.
It is especially important for those looking into teaching to get feedback from a real teacher, which is why Knoll’s views on his own career is needed information. “I would encourage a teaching career, I think it’s quite rewarding in many ways that we’ve talked about.”, he voices. “…we…have great breaks and that’s part of the appeal of teaching…, but on the other hand we tend to take the twelve months that we have in a year and cram all of the work that we have into nine months, and so it’s…very much…an incredibly busy time and then you have all this free time. …you have to be really prepared to be overwhelmed and out of your comfort zone at times, but then there are moments to catch up, but, by and large it’s a pretty awesome thing to do.”
Even people that may not specifically be looking for that path down a teaching career could take valuable information from Knoll’s experience, and it could help them find out if teaching is right for them. “I’ve got a number of friends that are in different roles within corporations and one of the funny things about that is, their reflection on their work, it’s incredibly busy and stressful:”, Knoll responds on whether he would reccomend the job to these kinds of people. “Vacations are limited, long hours…but the pay is a bit different…and so when we look at the two occupations for instance…speaking with some friends of mine, they’ll say, “I wish I could be a teacher, I wish I could have that…less stress environment, more engaged with people that are willing to listen and do some work.”, and so it’s a funny balance between good, healthy stress and overwhelming stress… So I think some people really would like to be a teacher… I think a lot of people have a curiosity, but like I said it can be a bit overwhelming too.”
Knoll believes as well that this stress is a part of teaching that should be looked at for people looking at the career. “I mean we have different levels of stress…and so it’s about management, it’s about keeping kids engaged too and keeping them working towards something.”, Knoll informs. “…you can’t just stop what you’re doing you have to continue to move forward, you’re always moving forward.”
Knoll is not without a wide array of advice into this career relating to his own school, yet he has a smaller amount of information in those schools outside of Westmount. Knoll truthfully responds: “…I’ve got little experience at other schools and I do know that the feeling is different, so I can’t really speak specifically to what other schools offer, but I think in terms of my satisfaction…that also stems from a very positive leadership group as well.” Knoll believes that there is a large importance in the aspect of leadership in the teaching career. “…that’s where i feel a lot of people feel a little bit isolated or that they’re voices aren’t heard….we don’t have a large board that we are responsible to that we don’t get to know. We have a very small board that we do know that we’re able to have communication with. So I think on that level too, there’s a lot of facetime that you can have, so that’s important too…to be able to be heard and…I think that’s important for teachers…just as it is for students….I think it lends confidence to people in an organization.”
Knoll’s words of wisdom may not be heard or followed by many people, maybe none will go on to teaching after reading this. As for those that choose to take this knowledge to heart, may they become true professionals in their field with their own mindset of being a teacher, as well as their newfound knowledge taken from a professional himself.