QKM: Why did you choose to become a teacher?
CW: While many of my peers got into teaching because of a great role-model who inspired them, I got in for the opposite reason; my high school experience was filled with such rigid instruction, flavorless lessons, and little-to-no technology that I decided become a teacher to ensure that no student I came into contact with would have the same experience. I'm proud to say that, 4 years in, I'm living the dream—my students are my life!
QKM: What is the biggest highlight from your classroom this year?
CW: So many, but the biggest was my Senior British Lit students (100% ELL) producing a 60-minute adaptation of "Twelfth Night" in a massive theater, using (and understanding!) Shakespeare's original language. This project took over 4-months of intense classroom time, between auditions, memorization, prop- and set-design, and rehearsals. It's the first time our school put on major play production in front of an audience including family, friends, and the community.
QKM: Tell us about a teacher who inspired you. How did they do it? What made them great?
CW: Mr. Bralley, my history teacher, was the one teacher in high school who inspired me to invest in my own education and think deeply about the world around me. He was fun, enthusiastic, and smart, but I'll never forget how all of his students knew that he truly loved them. When I'm in the classroom, every now and then, I'll say or do something that reminds me of Mr. Bralley, and I'll laugh at how, years later, his lessons are still with me.
QKM: How can technology help you to be more efficient in the classroom?
CW: As the first all-iPad school in Taiwan, we use technology every day to stay organized, up-to-date, and connected to the world around us. I personally use Google Docs to plan my lessons, Blogger for student portfolios, Dropbox for archiving homework, Twitter to learn about what's "in" in education, and Evernote for everything else. Basically, every day we come home with 10% left on our iPads' batteries!
QKM: What is really hard about teaching, and how do you deal with it?
CW: 1) When I'm in front of the classroom, I talk and talk, hamming it up all day long, but inside, I'm a true introvert. As I've learned this about myself, I've had to find ways to balance giving my kids 100% and taking time to recover from my class-time workout. 2) In Taiwanese culture, students are taught to respect their teachers and blindly treat everything they say as "the answer". One of my key challenges, then, has been to teach students that they can both show respect to elders and have their own opinions on the world around them.
QKM: Thanks Chris!