John Garland, Math Teacher, Albemarle High School
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is seeing kids give up on themselves. I spend countless hours tracking these individuals down, giving second, third and fourth chances, and providing a ton of support. It is heart-breaking when this time investment doesn’t yield a positive return. On the other hand, what keeps me going are the many successes. Albemarle High School has a smart, out-going and talented student body. I consider myself fortunate to work with them each and everyday.
What’s the most common misconception about your job?
The most common misconception about our job is that we have summers, weekends and holidays off to do as we please. A ton of “free time” is designated to preparation, continuing education and parent contacts. Albemarle High School’s website lists the start time for classes at 8:45 a.m. and ending time at 3:45 p.m. Many days I am at school by 8 a.m., leaving school around 4:30 p.m., and working with students (via email and phone) until 9 p.m.
Where do you see the teaching field in 5 years?
Albemarle County is making the shift to do more project-based learning and place less and less emphasis on the Standards of Learning Tests. Dr. Pam Moran, our superintendent, is an advocate of this. I hope we continue with this trend. In regards to the classroom, the traditional view of desks and a teacher in front of a chalkboard is a thing of the past. Classrooms are no longer restricted to the confines of a room in a school. Technology is evolving so quickly that what once was thought to be impossible becomes part of everyday life. To answer the question of where I see education in five years…I will have to say I don’t know. The possibilities are limitless.
What outside experience prepared you best to become a teacher?
Three experiences have definitely helped me become a better teacher. Ironically, these have all occurred during my teaching career. First and foremost, being a parent. Seeing the “other side of the coin” gives you a great appreciation for the educational process. Secondly, collaborating. I have had the opportunity to team teach with two great individuals. Working with them has opened me up to new teaching strategies and learning styles. Last, but not least, I run a successful business outside of school. Dealing with contracts, contacts and advertising in the wedding industry sums up what I do on a daily basis in teaching…I sell math.