Kudos to Tyler Ramsay (Denver, '15 and '16). He is a teaching intern at Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, MA. The teaching internship is part of a one-year immersive master's program in which he co-teaches during the day and takes master’s classes in the evening.
Why did you choose this program?
TYLER: I chose this program, Bridge to the Future, because it is an immersive experience. There was no observation period for me; I started co-teaching immediately with an experienced and professional mentor. As the year goes on, I will receive slightly more responsibility in the classroom until I can handle all five classes by the end of the year. My mentor set up the classroom with me, lesson plans with me, grades with me, and gives me an incredible amount of freedom to explore how lessons are framed and formatted. My team at the middle school has also been incredibly supportive, welcoming me into their community immediately.
Why have you decided to teach?
TYLER: I want to teach because I want to effect change in society. For a long time, I was interested in joining politics because I believed that was a career in which I could have a large and positive impact on those around me. After spending some time in the classroom, however, I found that this is a great career to make change, to be a role model for future generations, to encourage learning and good behaviors, and to make history (often viewed as a boring subject) fun and engaging. I realized that a single conversation could have boundless effects on a student’s life, and showing up to class every day and showing them that you care about them makes the biggest difference in the world. I believe that if we want to make society a truly better place, we can start right here in the classroom.
What subject(s) and grade(s) are you teaching?
TYLER: I am teaching eighth grade social studies. The curriculum is United States history, but we are framing the year through the essential question: “What is the story of America?” We hope to explore some of the “untold stories and hidden histories” that often aren’t included in mainstream curricula.
What are you most excited about?
TYLER: I am most excited about joining an incredibly supportive and progressive community. The school and its teachers are committed to nontraditional methods of teaching: grading is viewed as secondary to learning and improvement; students rarely, if ever, use textbooks; lessons allow students to engage with multiple forms of media. As someone whose eighth grade history class was rigorous note-taking for the entire block, I am excited to explore how lessons can be both engaging and informative at the same time.
What is your favorite memory from the summer?
TYLER: It’s hard to pick only one, but my favorite memories involve bonding with my teaching colleagues. Whether it was going on a road trip to South Dakota, choreographing a mobile dance at Cheesman Park, or comparing our Myers-Briggs personalities, it’s hard to find an environment that is as constructive and supportive as Generation Teach. Our bonding and friendships outside of the classroom strengthened our roles inside the classroom; it was great to have constant support and encouragement from our friends.
What did you learn from the job process? Do you have any advice for others who may be entering the classroom soon?
TYLER: The job process was very casual. When applying to schools, we visited a high school gymnasium with several schools set up at tables. The setting was like “speed dating” for school placements, visiting each school for about ten minutes and giving them your pitch. There were traditional questions, like “What traits distinguish you from other candidates?” and more unusual questions, like “Name foods that are also the names of famous bands.” In the end, Amherst Middle School selected me because they were impressed when I told them about my work with GT.
Do you have any advice for your TF colleagues?
TYLER: It’s hard to find any piece of advice that isn’t cliche, but: Be yourself. If you have a sense of humor, show it in your interview. If you play music as a hobby, tell them that in your interview. You want to be placed in a school that really connects with you, your educational philosophy, and your personality.