SPOTLIGHT ON NEW TEACHERS: MICHAEL CAMPBELL

Megan Brady, OFLA Beginning Teacher Committee Chair
Spanish Teacher, Marlington 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. This spotlight edition is on Michael Campbell,  a Spanish teacher at Sylvania Northview in Sylvania, Ohio. This is his third year teaching Spanish.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

My very favorite part about being a teacher is having something to celebrate every single day. Every little bit of language growth that I see in my students is an invitation to recognize and affirm their achievements, and I make sure that we all celebrate that on a daily basis. Even when I’m having tough days, applauding my students’ strides is always enough to put a smile on my face.

What made you want to teach?

As a humanities major in undergrad, I had always wondered what teaching might be like but really came to love it while working as a long-term substitute at Coventry Middle School near Akron, OH. My amazing colleagues there showed me how rewarding teaching can be when done in an environment that supports students when they face challenges and celebrates their victories when they overcome them. That experience stayed with me throughout my subsequent graduate studies and motivated me to pursue teaching as a full-time profession after that.

Who has had the biggest impact on your teaching and why?

It’s so difficult to choose! But if I must, I would have to say that Kim McElroy, my colleague at Sylvania and first-year Resident Educator mentor, has had the biggest impact on my development as an educator. Kim’s keen feedback and perpetual advice to “be my own teacher” gave me the confidence to develop my own personal teaching style, and her assurance that she is “always my mentor” has proven invaluable in the time since I finished RE Year 1.  If you’re reading, thanks Kim!

What is one thing you learned from another teacher that helped you this year?

As I’m sure many of us have experienced, the pandemic has brought with it a slew of new technologies to learn how to use. Lisa Sobb, my colleague at Sylvania, has been an instrumental part of making sure that our district’s language teachers know how to effectively use new things like Schoology, extensions in Google Chrome, and other platforms. From her, I learned how to set up breakout rooms in Google Meets, which proved instrumental in facilitating interpersonal communication as well as community-building when our district was all-remote. Thank you, Lisa!

What is a project or lesson in your classroom that you are really proud of or happy with?

Last year, I decided to contextualize the “parts of a house” unit in my Spanish II class by interacting with an authentic real estate website based in Bogotá, Colombia. Students searched house listings to identify what kinds of houses they might like to have if they were moving to Bogotá, as well as information about the city’s distinct neighborhoods. In the end, students designed their ideal houses in Bogotá and compared them to their peers.’ It was a fantastic way for students to use authentic materials that were comprehensible and engaging, and to also incorporate new grammatical structures about expressing want and need. Plus, the posters they made showcased some impressive creative talent.

What is one thing that you have struggled with as a new teacher?

One of my biggest challenges has definitely been staying positive when things get rough and not letting discouragement overshadow all of the things that I love about my job. Sometimes, I find it all too easy to assume that I am the only one who might be struggling with things like planning, assessment strategies, discipline, etc. However, my more experienced colleagues always reassure me that these struggles are universal and offer a good perspective on how to get back to a positive mindset.

What advice do you have for new teachers?

In a non-material sense, be generous with everyone around you in your school. Reach out to your department colleagues for advice and collaboration, go to gatherings and events, and just say “hello” to everyone you see in the hallway. Teaching can feel quite isolating sometimes, but even a wave and a smile can give you the boost you need to do your best on tough days.