Teacher of the Week: Mr. Smith

Welcome back to Teacher of the Week! Each week, we’ll be highlighting a teacher or staff member here at KHS. This week’s Teacher of the Week is Mr. Smith! Mr. Smith is a social studies teacher and has been working at KHS for 5 years. Currently, Mr. Smith teaches history and social studies electives. 

Who would you like to invite to dinner – dead or alive?

I’d like to sit down with Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha. Not their historical selves, but rather a modern incarnation that I could ask how they feel about the actions that have been taken in their names.


No names – describe your worst teaching experience.

Years ago, in another state, I had a student that was struggling in my class. I am sympathetic to this because I, too, struggled in high school. Unfortunately, in order to justify their poor grades to their parents, they fabricated an entire story about me bullying them daily and making them hate both school and themselves. What was most devastating for me was not just defending myself when the parents came for my head, but the need to convince the student to reveal their lies and then watching the loss of trust in the father’s eyes when the student finally confessed. As I watched the father’s rage begin to boil in the student’s direction instead of my own, I felt powerless and miserable for them. It made me sad to see my own experiences as a teenager reflected so clearly in another young person and to fail to find any tool to effectively intervene.


What’s the hardest thing about teaching?

Grading. I want grades to be a tool for feedback – an opportunity to show students how they can improve. Instead, most students (and parents, peers, etc.) see grades as a value judgement on the worth of the individual. So, when I grade, I am constantly torn between the impulse to help students see where they can grow and the desire to empower them to keep trying.


What’s your teacher bliss? (Something small about teaching that you love)

My favorite moment in any class is when a student raises a question or idea that I have never thought of before. Teachers often find themselves teaching the same material day after day, year after year, so when a new perspective is introduced it is exciting and revitalizing. I have great faith in the creativity and capacity of my students.


Your Advice to Students:

Embrace risk. We all spend far too much time and energy attempting to insulate ourselves from the possibility of failure. There is no growth without risk. To do this, we need to take the long view of life that clearly shows us that reform, revision, and reinvention are possible. Accept that you are a work in progress, as is everyone around you, and enter the arena.