Andrew Lovell remembers his difficult transition to sixth grade as a youth, and as a sixth grade teacher, tries to set an example for his students
Andrew Lovell teaches sixth grade at Westside Elementary in Springville. He’s been teaching school for six years now and when asked what factors led to him becoming a teacher he was passionate in his reply.
“In sixth grade, I struggled socially in a way I never had before. The transition from elementary to middle school was more difficult for me than it was for most of my peers, and I went from having numerous friends to virtually zero during that school year. I remember trying to find a group of kids to sit with and eventually joining a group of outcasts, of which I myself was an outsider. I remember how I looked in upon their conversations as they ate lunch, never really partaking of the friendship.
“It was during this time that I often longed for a caring teacher to step in and help me find my place. My romanticized and unrealistically high standards for teachers (that could only be brought to fruition through Hollywood scripts), only proved to be another source of disheartenment during that year. While I never found my Dumbledore, Mr. Keating, or Miss Honey, I persevered and from seventh grade onward, my educational pursuits were nothing less than joyous. That sixth-grade year, however, left a residual longing. This longing morphed into a dream of becoming the teacher I always needed.
“I like to think that my current position as a sixth-grade teacher plays a key part in my educational journey. It provides me with opportunities to become the mentor I never had. Whether it is letting students shave my head as a reward, creating afterschool clubs for misfit students, traveling to the other side of the world to complete my students’ service project, or tutoring sick children in their homes; I have learned that pedagogy takes on many different forms.”
Andrew says that one of the most valuable things he learned this year is, “Children are incredibly resilient. Despite having to wear masks, limit their social interactions, and cancel school activities, they go about their school day without complaints and find joy in the small things.”
And when asked what his favorite part of the school day he said it was recess. “Because,” he said, “I get the chance to interact with students outside of the classroom setting. Students come out of their shell a little and stronger relationships are built. Students that trust their teacher as a quarterback on a fourth down, carry that trust over to math class.”
The hardest thing for Lovell in teaching during Covid-19 is when, “Teachers have students in quarantine. Essentially you have two full time jobs. Classroom lectures and discussion doesn’t necessarily translate into online work.”
And in regards to how he suggests parents can help their kids in school he says to help them learn how to study for a test, how to ask for help, and how to disagree agreeably. Help them learn how to balance extra-curricular activities and school work.
How to be kind. How to be social. How to have a growth mindset. And engage in conversation with your children on the advantages of gaining an education, alternative educational career paths, all the while helping them understand that there are things more important in life than the grades you’ll receive in formal education.
When asked about any fun projects he has done with his students his reply was enthusiastic and above and beyond what the guidelines we would expect from a traditional teacher.
“In year’s past, I have had my students partner with local non-profits and run a student-led fundraiser.
“My students have raised money and created projects for local organizations such as Tabitha’s Way, Utah Foster Care, Musana, Golden Sunbeam International, and Ashford Assisted Living & Memory Care.
“My favorite project included a promise I made to students that if they exceeded their fundraising goal, I would fly to Uganda and help build the libraries for which they had raised funds. Through the use of modern technology, students were able to join me as I traveled Uganda and see the fruit of their labor in real time.”
And what advice would Lovell give a new teacher starting out? He says to don’t be afraid to put down the text book and teach what you know is important.
If you have an amazing teacher like Andrew Lovell who you would like us to spotlight, please submit your teacher to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Gibson is a Serve Daily contributor.)