For week two of our “From the Classroom of” series, we interviewed a high school art teacher from Jacksonville, Florida. James Dent, or Mr. Dent as his students call him, will be teaching at Darnell-Cookman Middle and High School and is looking forward to a new year of teaching what he loves – art!
Q: How many years of experience do you have teaching?
A: I’m about to begin my fifth year.
Q: Why did you choose to teach?
A: I’ve always worked well with children, and teaching was something that interested me a great deal.
Q: What grade level do you teach?
A: I currently teach 9th through 12th, but taught 6th through 8th for three years.
Q: What do you find is the most challenging aspect of your daily routine with students?
A: Teaching has a lot of challenges, but holding the students’ attention and keeping them on task is the toughest for me.
Q: How do you get organized for the first day & first week of a new school year?
A: It’s really easy after your first couple of years. There are certain things that need to be done every year, and you make a list and check things off as they get done. Then you revisit your lesson plans, freshen them up, and you’re ready to go.
Q: What subjects do you teach?
A: I am currently teaching Arts in Medicine and AP Art History.
Q: What subjects do you most enjoy teaching?
A: Anything art related. It’s what I know best.
Q: Have you developed any unique strategies for teaching, staying organized or anything else?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s a unique strategy, but I’m extremely organized and keep all of my work and content in order so that I can revisit anything I’ve taught at any time.
Q: What has been your biggest lesson or point of personal growth since you first became a teacher?
A: The biggest lesson that I learned was during my first year. Not all students come from great homes and you have to work extra hard and have a great deal of patience to reach difficult students. They need to know that you care.
Q: Do you have any success stories about a particular student, or anything else? If so, share one!
A: I’ve had a number of great students, but my favorite story to tell (what I consider a success) occurred about three years ago. A student that was easily distracted and needed constant redirection in my class throughout the year came back from a Spring Break trip very excited. He told me that he went to a museum and he saw “The Starry Night” in person and was able to tell his family all about the piece because of what he learned in my class. This made me feel very proud of him and myself.
Q: Is there a burning question you WISH someone would ask you about your job?
A: I wish more people would ask me what it’s like when a student “gets it.” It’s such a great feeling. So many people think of teaching negatively that they don’t realize how awesome it can be when you’re successful with the students.
Q: Additional thoughts you would like to add?
A: My parting advice would be that if you don’t like children, please do not teach. I’ve seen a few people that did not go into teaching for the right reasons. These folks made themselves and their students miserable. You’ve got to enjoy it if you want the students to learn.
Thank you to Mr. Dent for participating in our “From the Classroom of” series and giving us all a more personal look into the lives of teachers! We’ll be celebrating our educators all month long, so be sure to check back next Monday to meet another teacher busy preparing for back-to-school!