Georgia’s Teacher of the Year: I stunk my first year in classroom

Georgia’s Teacher of the Year Casey M. Bethel was on track for medical school when, as a graduate student studying genetics, he discovered he loved instructing undergraduates during labs.

An AP Physics, AP Biology and Physical Science teacher from New Manchester High in Douglasville, Bethel sponsors a male mentoring club at New Manchester called Project Manhood. Every Tuesday, upwards of 50 male students dress professionally to meet and discuss important issues. The club’s motto is “Succeed at School, Succeed at Life.” As a group they work on improving school culture and community service projects.

Writing in the AJC today, Bethel draws from his own experiences as a new teacher to discuss how Georgia can better help classroom novices.

He writes, “My first year as a teacher, I stunk! I hope you don’t ridicule me for admitting it. I thought if I stood in front and explained, kids would listen and learn from me – but I was wrong. I needed to learn how to teach.”

He did so when his class was relocated to a trailer. “Fate rescued me in that trailer. I was partnered with two effective, veteran teachers and one newer, struggling teacher. This provided exactly the right learning environment for me to improve. I could look across the hallway and see which strategies worked, and then glance at the struggling teacher and see what didn’t.”

To read more of Bethel’s experiences and his advice on mentoring, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.

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