David Kujawski, Middle School Science Teacher, on Teaching
Three words that describe your teaching persona
Lively, funny and strict
Why teach? Or, how did you become a teacher?
I never thought that I’d become a teacher, but I am extremely lucky to have found such a rewarding career. I love learning and, as a teacher, learning never ends. Whether it’s learning how to deal with certain classroom situations or about specific content, every day presents new and exciting challenges. Teaching is exhausting, but to this day I have never woken up and said, “Man, I really don’t want to go to work.” Trust me, I have had some classes and certain students that have given me a run for my money. Regardless, I look forward to getting to school and teaching. I take great pride in my career and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, almost anything…
What would you be if not a teacher?
A professional golfer or fisherman
What do you do to optimize student engagement in class?
I try to think like a 6th grader when planning. Would my students benefit from boring lectures or hands-on activities? I try to maximize cooperative learning and activities everyday.
Coffee, tea, or caffeine-free?
Black coffee in the morning, chocolate all day long
Describe your classroom management style (including a few best practices) in a few sentences.
I kind of need to be in control. I achieve and maintain this by clearly outlining my expectations on day one and try my best not to waiver. Structure and consistency are my best friend, but at the same time I adapt and modify things that aren’t working out. Being flexible is important. Organization and clear lessons make management a lot easier.
Favorite Cartoon/TV/Movie Teacher
Favorite Book (to read or to teach)
The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
Describe your process of preparing a lesson.
I adhere to the Understanding by Design (backwards planning) model. I start with what I want my students to be able to do and then work backwards. Planning assessments first, then lessons to get them there.
Which teacher do you admire most and what makes him/her a great teacher?
All of the teachers that I admire have the following traits: 1) They can lead students through challenging activities, while minimizing student resentment, 2) They hold students accountable and push them to exceed their abilities, and 3) Would make great administrators but choose to stay in their role as a teacher.
What makes a teacher effective?
Meticulous planning and the willingness to constantly change how they approach each lesson/unit.