Megan Brady, OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee Chair
Spanish Teacher, Northwest Local Schools
The OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee is working hard to connect with new teachers and to support them in becoming excellent, innovative, resourceful, and long-lasting world language teachers. Our goal is to provide a network of resources, strategies, and tools for new teachers. We want new teachers to know that they are not alone, and that OFLA is here to help them. To this end, we will be interviewing new teachers throughout the year and highlighting them in The Cardinal. Jamey Howie is a Spanish teacher at Canton Central Catholic High School in Canton, Ohio. This is his third year teaching Spanish.
- What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
My favorite thing about being a teacher and a coach is building relationships with the students and seeing them grow as students and people. I really enjoy helping students build the confidence to try something they haven’t done before in the classroom and on the court, supporting them when they fall short, and celebrating with them when they do eventually succeed.
- What made you want to teach?
When I started my freshman year at Ohio State, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to work with people. While I was in Columbus, I worked with some high school students through YoungLife and realized that I really wanted to work with young people, and teaching was the obvious way to do that. I think I was always going to end up teaching because my mom is a high school Spanish teacher and we are very similar in many ways.
- Who has had the biggest impact on your teaching and why?
My mom is a high school Spanish teacher, and at the dinner table all through my childhood we heard about the challenges that arose, but also about the successes and impact that she was having on her students. She has been such a resource and a role model in these first few years of teaching.
- What is one thing you learned from another teacher that helped you this year?
I learned to reach out to parents early. In my first two years I was cautious to email or call parents, but they can be such a resource and there are problems that can be solved by one phone call. And even if the problems don’t go away, they have given me insight into what has and hasn’t worked with their child in the past.
- What is a project or lesson in your classroom that you are really proud of or happy with?
I do a fashion show where the students write a mini-script for a classmate to read while they “model” an outfit that can be as goofy or outrageous as they want. The students really enjoy wearing non-uniform clothes for the day and being able to dress in really odd ways. Younger students asked if they would be able to do that project and students who have already done it asked if they would be doing it again the next year.
- What is one thing that you have struggled with as a new teacher?
I have struggled with managing students who are constantly absent. I know things have been crazy because of Covid, but I have even had multiple students with more than 40 absences without quarantine or Covid being the main cause. I have spent (at times) unhealthy amounts of time and energy trying to come up with ways for those students to make up what activities they missed in class and trying to get them to do the assignments that they missed.
- What advice do you have for new teachers?
Take the time to show up for your students at their sports events or other extracurriculars. Especially if you have freshmen; take the time to go to a freshman volleyball or football game, because it will mean a lot to the kids, even if they act like it doesn’t. I learned through YoungLife that you have to “earn the right to be heard.” This is a different context, but showing the students that they mean more to you than a number in a gradebook or a name on a seating chart will pay off in classroom management and student buy-in.