Bradford Middle School Teacher Spotlight May/June 2017

Paul Jacobs is an 8th grade social studies teacher at Bradford Academy.

What keeps your students aiming for success in the classroom?

I keep students aiming for success by impressing on them the need to accomplish their goals in high school and beyond for college. As an 8th grade team, we believe it is our job to prepare our kids to succeed in high school, and starting out on a good foot when they enter is crucial.

How do you remind your students of the expectations you have?

Everyday our team reinforces the rules and expectations we have in place. We set the bar high on day one and maintain that level throughout the year. When you get closer to the end months, it becomes more difficult to keep these expectations, but we as a team need to work together so everyone remains on the same page.

Your students seem to take an active part in the classroom. In what ways are they active in their learning?

My classroom is hands-on and project based with lessons. Students are involved in their own learning from the beginning. They are responsible for their own grade and learning. By putting students at the center of your lessons, they are able to feel as though the assignments mean something to them. This sense of meaning makes the lessons feel more real.

With such independent students, how do you incorporate teamwork into your classroom?

In addition to project based learning, my classes put themselves into groups that they will work with for the rest of the year. By allowing students to pick their own groups, they know that a friend might not be the best person to work with because they can become a distraction. When it comes to receiving a good grade with a group they’ve picked, students tend to make the work more personal.

In what ways do you build a family-like atmosphere in your classroom?

To build a family-like atmosphere, I try to get to know my students on a personal level so I can connect with what interests them.

What’s the ‘secret ingredient’?

My secret ingredient is excitement for my class. By keeping my lessons interesting, students want to be here and working, even if they don’t understand that they are actually learning.

How do you keep your students interested in learning?

I keep my students interested my altering lessons to not be the same routine of lesson and lecture. Students do not want to just sit and write notes all day long; they want to be involved and a part of the learning process.

How are creativity and innovative thinking used on a daily basis in your classroom?

My lessons involve students having to come up with new and interesting ways to accomplish a task. By focusing the learning on how the student solves a problem, students need to have creative thinking in my classroom.