A New Perspective

On February 12, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Sam Martin

We have just wrapped up our sixth month working at Brophy and a lot has changed in that time. When classes first began I was not entirely sure how teaching would play out. I was not concerned with the material and how to convey it as much as I was concerned about how to build a positive and role-appropriate relationship with students. Being only 22 years old and teaching high school is like being the awkwardly young uncle that acts more like an older brother or cousin. I am only eight years older than my students which is a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, there is a tendency from both ends for the relationship to be more friendly than with other, older faculty members. Sometimes this causes lines to blur for students about what is appropriate behavior since sometimes they forget that I am a faculty member and possess the authority to hand out detentions and obligation to encourage good behavior and attitudes. However, the relatively small age gap creates opportunities and augments my ability to influence my students beyond the clockwise punctuation of class periods.

I get approached with questions about girls, life issues, other teachers that I had as a student, Brophy traditions, my future plans beyond Brophy, and questions about my interests and hobbies. When students find out that I am going to medical school they will pick my brain about how to do it and what things they need to do in college to go to medical school themselves, giving me the chance to act as an impromptu college counselor to our outgoing seniors. One of my most memorable moments on campus this year was at the very end of the Hoopcoming dance when one of my freshmen students rushed up to me to inform me that he, as of mere moments prior, solidified his first high school girlfriend. It is not uncommon for students to lament assignments from other teachers, hoping that I will agree and join in the bashing; but moments like this allow me the opportunity to share my pint-sized wisdom and perspective of the value certain Brophy courses and teachers added to my college success, giving them a new perspective on what they think is “pointless” work.

On the other hand, this unique relationship with students allows for even more teaching moments to be had, especially outside the classroom. Until our ASC retreat with Principal Bob Ryan and Mr. Ted Skowron, last month, moments like this passed nearly unheeded. I knew that my relationship with the student body was unique, but it was not until Mr. Skowron said, “those boys think you are heroic,” that I finally began to realize just how important my job is outside of the classroom (and the tangents and stories I share in the classroom). I would not admit to being anyone’s hero, but after sitting with that idea for a few weeks, I think he is right. I think back to my time at Brophy and all of the people I admired and aspired to be like. The younger, Jesuit Volunteers were..heroic. Even if they weren’t the most sauve of men, on campus they were demigods. They were always funny, nice, relaxed, and had stories to which any 16 year old boy growing up in the new millennium could relate.

With this new perspective on my role this year in the community I have begun to change the way I interact with students. I am more relaxed this semester, more able to be a friend than I was in September. I still am obligated to hand out the occasional detention and “be the bad guy” from time to time, but I would like to think I am much more approachable. In the five of us, students see Brophy in action; they see how the opportunities afforded them by attending this school lead to promising futures and great experiences like the one I share with my fellow ASC members.

I have, at times, certainly been more of a friend when I should be more of a teacher, and at others been more of a teacher when I am needed more as a friend. This year is as much about teaching my students something as it is about them teaching me, and I am very excited to see what the rest of the semester has in store for me and the ASC.


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