8th Grade ELA Teacher
10th Grade English II Teacher
Movie Club Faculty Advisor
Can you describe the Teaching Residency program to me?
The Relay Teaching Residency, from start to finish, is a gradual onboarding of responsibilities for the Resident. Year 1, when you’re in the classroom those first couple of weeks, a lot of what you’re doing is observing the Lead Teacher in the class – the Resident Advisor – and getting an idea for what it means to teach. Throughout that first year, you will gradually take on more and more responsibilities in the classroom, from small portions of the lesson, to grading assignments, to designing lesson plans, and then teaching those lesson plans, all the way up until the end of your first year, when you’re capable of doing the same amount of work as the Lead Teacher in the classroom.
Ideally, the second year – which is where I’m at – you are the Lead Teacher in the classroom, doing the lesson planning and grading on your own, there’s no more Resident Advisor check-ins, really, at this point, you’ve kind of been released to do the stuff. And it works perfectly with the Relay Graduate Program, just because the second year of Relay is when you really start to look at curriculum design and some of the bigger concepts behind teaching as far as how to structure your lessons. So right at the time that you need that kind of material to build a backbone for what you’ll be doing in your own classroom, it’s provided for you.
I heard you have your Master’s Presentation coming up. What are you choosing to highlight?
My Master’s Presentation is going to be on the ways we can support students with IEPs within the classroom, so those exceptional learners, just finding additional ways to support them when it comes to ELA learning and particularly around text analysis, essays, that sort of stuff.
What’s it like to balance being a teacher and also taking Relay courses?
The second year is busier than the first, but I don’t feel like I’ve been so overwhelmed at any point… One of the beautiful things about the Residency Program, the reason I like it so much, is not only does the onboarding give you the change to gradually take on more responsibilities in the classroom, but it gives you focus primarily, right off the bat, on the grad school component, so the exact time you’re getting more used to things in the classroom, you’re also getting more confident in your ability to do the grad school work, because you’ve been doing it for a few months. There is a balance there. Scheduling some time to study, scheduling some time to get classwork done is of course going to be a present thing, but it is definitely manageable. I think the program itself just lends you to mastering both aspects of the Residency, roughly by the end of that first year.
How did you decide that you wanted to teach?
I was in a fraternity in college, and I was an educator there, where I structured the lesson plans and curriculum for that education process. I had a lot of fun with that. When I graduated college, I kept up tutoring ELA online, but then I went to work in the legal field… and then I was like, “You know what, I had the most fun out of any career when I was tutoring and teaching people things. So I should probably reexamine that as an opportunity.”
In the fall of 2019, I was like, “Josh, you’re still young enough, you’re setting yourself on a new career path, find a way to get into school for education, find a way to get some sort of experience in a school so that you can take the steps you need to become a teacher and really start making a difference with the students.” And so I started applying for different positions.
Freire Wilmington actually told me about the Residency Program, during an interview for a separate position, and I thought that sounded like the best thing ever, because I’m new to this whole teaching thing, I would love to watch somebody else do it for a couple of weeks before I get the ball rolling.
What drew you to Freire Wilmington?
One of my friends actually worked at Freire Wilmington before me. Just getting some insight from him on what Freire Schools’ values are, the way they treat their staff, the way they build a culture of success in the building and in the classroom, the way they build a culture of real teamwork, it really got me interested. Once I found out there was a position opening up that I was interested in, I went and I dug even deeper in the website. At the end of it all, I was like, “This school seemed like the high school experience I wish I had.” So it seemed like the perfect place to try to get started.
My second year of college, I was giving a presentation in one of my ELA classes, and my professor pulled me aside and she said, “You should try out for the theater company that is run by me and another professor here at the school.” So I did. And just in talking with those two professors, hearing them just unapologetically be so devoted to talking with people about the books they love – it was really a wake-up call to me that that was a thing that I had always wanted to do, that I was always kind of shying away from, because of stigmas from job availability as an English major. Talking with those two professors really opened my eyes that English was a field I could consider and pursue.
What is your favorite lesson you’ve taught so far?
I’m going to say it is the recent presentations we had around the idea of taking a stand. So we recently did a unit on civil rights movements across different time periods and countries, for different types of civil rights as well, and a big part of that unit was discussing the ways that we can use rhetoric to further our arguments: strengthen them, refine them, make sure that we are hitting the exact emotion we want to in our audience. To culminate all that work, we did a project where students were tasked with using rhetorical appeals to make a stand on something that they are passionate about. I got a lot of really great posters and presentations, and people just sharing the things they care about. That felt like a real success moment for me, because it was bridging English as a subject to the things that they love and care about themselves.
That’s one thing Relay is really good about pushing on: make the lessons connect to the students. That is how learning takes place. You cannot invest students into something if it is not something that is investing back in them. Finding those areas where you can make connections is where the best learning happens.
Are you involved in any after school activities?
I currently run the Freire Wilmington Movie Club. We watch modern movies, classics, talk about why they are important for their time, talk about why the new stuff is important for what we’re seeing change in the world of directing and screenwriting in the present.
What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about applying to the Teaching Residency at Freire Schools?
I would tell them to take the opportunity, take the chance to get this experience, because it is not very often in life that you find the opportunity to both go down a career path and get a substantial amount of experience in that career path and other potential options, all at the exact same time, all in a way that gradually eases you into it. I truly cannot think of anything else in my life where something like this has been presented as an option… The Relay Residency is really trying to change the culture around learning to be an effective teacher, and I think that opportunity is just everything someone who is interested in teaching should consider. It really does bundle it all. It gives you the highest chance of success at this thing that you’re passionate about.Join Our Team