Lessons from the Field: Interview with Nate Schwartz

This post is part of the The Teachers Certification Map’s “lessons from the field”, a series of posts featuring passionate, inspiring educators from across the country discussing some of the lessons that they have learned over the years that would help young teachers as they embark on their careers.

Nate Schwartz teaches 7th and 8th grade Spanish at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, PA, and has been teaching there for 3 years. Prior to teaching at Shipley, Nate taught English for 2 years in rural Paraguay as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Below is our interview with Nate:

What inspired you to teach?

I have always enjoyed both teaching and learning. The idea of managing my own classroom intrigued me from a young age. My meaningful experience teaching in Paraguayan classrooms was most inspirational in leading me toward a career in education back home in the States.

What classroom methods are most helpful in pushing students towards their goals?

Different students have different learning styles, and one normally finds a variety of these learning styles in any given classroom. The finest educators work to cater to this assortment of learning styles by providing visual, auditory, and kinesthetic content, often all in a single class period. Individual participation and student interaction are also essential to successful language learning. Finally, helping students to make connections between their personal experience and their classroom lessons engages students, and thus encourages them to strive for further knowledge. Lessons involving music, food, art, and other cultural activities can often provide motivation for homework pertaining to more difficult grammatical concepts.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known when you started in the classroom?

I wish I had already taught a year before teaching my first year. As that prospect is not feasible for prospective educators, my advice for new teachers is to learn as much as possible from students and fellow colleagues during your first year. I adhere to the philosophy of learning by doing. If you are willing to learn, your students will be willing to learn too.

What skills could more developed if you were to enroll in a teacher training program? What would you like to improve about your teaching?

Both my experience living abroad in Spain and Latin America and my bachelor’s degree in Spanish and international relations have facilitated a high level of classroom comfort without a master’s degree in education. If I were to go back to school, I would look most forward to sharing ideas with other educators, as well as, learning the theory behind practices that strong educators often naturally implement. Thus far in my teaching career, I continue to learn on a daily basis simply surrounding myself by the gifted students and fellow colleagues at the Shipley School. My ultimate goal is to teach the intricacies of the Spanish language in the most exciting and engaging way possible. The more I learn and share, the closer I will be to reaching that goal.

Do you know someone with great insights to share with young teachers, or do you want to be considered for an interview? If so, please email us at hello@certificationmap.com.

This is a guest post from our journalist Alex J. Mann.  You can subscribe to his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.