By Angel Flores
Justin Hauver is a history teacher at Summit Public School: Rainier. This is his first year teaching at that campus, and he finds interest in the community.
1. What is your educational background?
“UC Berkeley. I majored in Philosophy and German. I was a double major, and last year I went to the Harvard Graduate School of Education and got a master’s degree.”
2. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
“That’s a good question. It’s always hard to answer because there’s probably a lot of reasons. I think one, there’s an abstract reason, and then there’s a concrete reason, so the concrete reason is that when I was in college I ended up doing this work study job which is like a financial aid sort of job.” Mr. Hauver spoke about his time at a YMCA in Berkeley and the impact that it had. It was there that he was offered a teaching job with Teach for America. Mr. Hauver explained how his major in psychology was in part the main reason he became a teacher. “It’s been interesting to me that the kind of things, whether it’s how knowledge works or human nature or the nature of our reality, comes out in the classroom with students.”
3. How is Summit different from other schools, and why did you pick this school?
“I think Summit is different in a lot of ways, and the main way (and the reason I picked it) is that I taught in Louisiana [and I] found out that in more traditional schools there’s not enough time to build one-on-one relationships and to try to support the student in a more one-on-one way, even if it’s just a 10-minute check-up during PLT with students.”
4. Do you like the community here at Summit Rainier; if so, what do you like about it?
“I do – I love the community here, and I think that one thing that constantly stands out to me is just how kind, compassionate and positive the students are here and the teachers as well.” He gave the example of the Talent Show and the amount of support that came from students to the performers. Mr. Hauver said he appreciates Rainier because of how inclusive the teachers are, adding that they’re very positive, always including each other in after-school activities. “That’s my favorite part. It’s very positive even though there’s still room to grow.”
5. What is one of your weaknesses, and how are you trying to improve it (in terms of teaching)?
“Having come from a more traditional school, I think my biggest weakness here is trying to make things super personalized. In a more traditional school they might have two or three different activities for students at different levels or different interests to do, but here it’s kinda at a different level. I’m working on it by reaching out to colleagues. I have a coach, Mr. Avarca, here who observes me, and I meet with him and, during those conversations, I’ve been trying to make the topic about me having a personalized approach and being more effective and targeting students’ interests and needs, so that’s my current area of focus.”
6. What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
“I don’t know if it’s a strength, but I think that it’s like a personality trait about me that I genuinely find students to be interesting, so I think that I approach students with that kind of genuine interest that they can sense and then also curiosity. I’m trying to find out more about them. I also think that I’m pretty organized, and I think that helps out a lot.”
7. What is your philosophy of teaching?
“It’s hard to put into words. I guess I would say my philosophy of teaching is really centered around the belief that people, students and everyone wants to learn or is curious about something. As a teacher, it’s my job to try to find out what that is and to nurture it and to tie in whatever subject I’m teaching (history) into that interest. It’s also centered around a belief that students are not very different from adults in the way we treat students; it should be of course be age appropriate, but it’s not that radically different; students don’t have a different set of physiological principles than teachers do.”
8. What do you want your students to remember about your classes?
“Since I teach history, I think that students leave the classroom feeling like it’s all happened in the past and that it’s not relevant. I want them to leave my class with a greater understanding of why or how what was taught and how and what skills we practiced are relevant to them today. Related to that too, I want them to leave with a greater understanding of themselves and their own narrative.”
9. Do you plan on continuing this career path down the road; if not, what other occupations are you interested in?
“Yeah, I’m gonna stay in education.”
10. How do you motivate your students to become active learners in your classroom?
“Well, I can say that I try to do that by again making it relevant to them, [being] responsive to their needs, their interests, and their cultures.”