Mr. Brent May teaches Advanced Science to 7th and 8th grade students at West Ridge Middle School. Upon interviewing him, I learned a little about his job and the types of communication he uses for it.
Mr.May graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science Biology and chose to become a teacher due to the stability of the education industry compared to other industries in the science field. He then pursued a master’s degree in Education at Louisiana Tech receiving his teaching certification. Additionally he obtained a master’s degree in Administration from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Throughout his teaching career, Mr. May has seen numerous changes in the field of education. The main change being increased teacher responsibility for student performance, resulting in a decrease in the students’ accountability. Unfortunately some perceptive students take advantage of this and do not apply themselves as they otherwise would. There are disciplinary actions that teachers can implement for such students. First a student must sign the teacher’s disciplinary log acknowledging he or she has been warned. Secondly, the student’s parent or guardian must be contacted. The next measure requires the student to copy “The Pledge of Excellence”. This pledge is a lengthy paragraph on excellence that takes the place of the student “writing lines”. Lastly, the student can be written up if behavioral or disciplinary problems still occur.
Mr. May says aside from general lectures in the classroom, his classes visit the computer lab and sometimes take trips outside for hands-on learning. “In Earth Science we can go outside, [and they] can see what I’m talking about. That usually helps.” He also says his classes do a lot of interactive progress group work.
When asked about how communication differs among the varied student age groups, Mr. May responded with, “You have to be pretty detailed and more thorough.” in regards to middle school aged children. He also finds he has to be more repetitive with younger students as opposed to the older high school students. Mr. May notes that 6th graders need a detailed schedule and more structure. They also need to be made aware of the classroom rules. However, 8th graders already have an understanding of the classroom process and are more easily instructed in rules and guidelines. Establishing classroom order creates a much better learning environment for students. High school students tend to be more independent in their work and require less instruction or reminding.
Mr. May says email is his first method of contacting parents. This saves conference times for more serious problems. If emailing does not solve the issue, a conference must be arranged by the parent through a counselor at the school, and a member of administration must be present for the parent-teacher conference. Mr. May has never had a problem that needed to be resolved with more than a conference. “Usually it’s nothing bad. It’s ‘How can we help the kid improve in the class?’”, says Mr. May.
Much like communication with parents, Mr. May uses email to contact his administrators as well. “If it’s not a pressing matter, just email.” He says that due to their busy schedules during the day, email is the most effective method of communication. He will also text, page, or even locate the principle on campus to speak if this issue is serious.
“For teaching, most of the writing we have to do is formal in terms of paperwork for SLTs (Student Learning Target) and evaluation forms.” Mr. May says teachers must also fill out forms for students with disabilities who need accommodations in the classroom. Outside of the classroom Mr. May uses formal writing immensely for numerous reports in graduate school. Much of the work he did in graduate school for his administration degree also entailed writing responses to particular scenarios.
To any student pursuing a career in education, Mr. May would suggest taking the route he took. He suggests getting a degree in your subject of interest then becoming certified to teach instead of majoring in education. He also suggests observing as many classes as possible to develop an understanding of the classroom environment and become familiar with it before you have your own class.
It was a joy and pleasure to interview Mr. Brent May, and I would like to thank him again for his time and cooperation.