Up next in the alumni spotlight is…Will Barth!
Will Barth is a PSU graduate who received his English degree (teacher certification option) in 2012.
Everyone has been graced with at least one outstanding teacher over the course of their academic journey, and Will’s 9th grade English teacher certainly made an impact on him.
“My 9th grade English teacher inspired me to do what he did. I was convinced he was a genius the way he interpreted literature and applied its lessons to life. He also complimented my capabilities and accomplishments which was the support I needed but didn’t get from my parents. We are still close friends today.”
These days, Will teaches 8th grade English in northern NH. He helps kids explore the humanities in order to study life and he loves his job. In Will’s words, he teaches “…to show kids who have it rough that they can make something of themselves even when the odds are against them. I try to be the teacher I wish I’d had.”
Although Will has been teaching for a little while now, he still remembers those initial encounters in the classroom.
For my first day of that two-week audition, I whipped up a generic lesson on symbolism and writing introduction letters to me so I could get to know my kids. I showed short animations about popular color associations (I use these to talk about symbolism and connotation vs. denotation). I was so nervous that they would be too childish for these sophomores, so before I played them I kept asking the kids, “What do you guys think – would that be cool, or like, weird?”Two lessons there: First, know when to seek student input and when to call the shots. And second, embrace the art of trial and error – don’t be afraid to throw something out there because you never know how wonderful it may turn out!
Speaking of teaching, Will confessed that his favorite class at Plymouth State is a tie between Critical Theory and Classroom Planning & Management.
Why a tie?
He said that it’s because, “Critical Theory came with a number of paradigm shifts while Classroom Planning & Management taught me the hard skills every teacher needs.”
Will agrees that the best piece of advice he received in college relates directly to his career shift: make sure the school you work in is a good fit for you.
On this subject, he warns recent graduates against temptation:
“Trust me, I know exactly how tempting it is to snag the first offer that descends from the heavens, but you’ll be doing yourself and your students a disservice if you don’t ask the right questions in the interview and find a place that fits your style, personality, convictions, and supports you.”
Will has a few tips about interviewing that you should keep in mind, regardless of your option or even your major.
1. Interview as much as you possibly can.
2. Don’t be late. It’s better to wait in your car for an hour than arrive one minute late.
3. Whenever possible, answer questions with anecdotes and examples.
4. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
To end on a funny note, Will shared this personal anecdote that kind of sums up being a teacher in a few sentences:
Will: “Okay guys we’re starting a new book today so let’s open those up.”
Student: “What page?”
Student: “What page?”
Do you have a PSU English alumni story to share? If so, please contact us! We’d love to feature you in The Canon!