Becoming a teacher at a new school always has its pros and cons, but starting at a new school during a pandemic can prove to be a difficult task. Mr. Matthew Anderson, who has 10 years of teaching experience, was welcomed to the Panther Family this year as a Chemistry teacher and Earth and Space teacher. He is not new to the district, though, having taught at Oswego East High School.
Mr. Anderson has vast experience in the science department, having taught classes such as Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, Honors Anatomy and Physiology, Ap Biology, AP Chemistry, Applied Physics, Physics, Earth Science, and AP Environmental Science. Of the classes he has taught, Applied Physics—a course primarily focused on the application of physics through experimentation—is his favorite.
“It was kind of like science olympiad all year round,” Mr. Anderson says.
This course was especially fun and unique because his students presented the idea for this course to him, and he made it happen for them as a way to keep them engaged in science and expanding their knowledge. Students got to do experiments like building rockets, which are entertaining yet insightful, and much of what science really is outside of the basics.
While teaching classes like Applied Physics is always fun, Mr. Anderson most looks forward to graduation because the ceremony resolidifies the impactful role of a teacher. Mr. Anderson believes graduation is comparative to taking off in an airplane. The runway is like high school, and graduation is take off.
“When you take off there’s that sense of ‘we’re flying,’…and I feel like graduation is like that time where I see you guys take off and fly,” Mr. Anderson says.
Yes, the actual material learned in high school science is significant, but Mr. Anderson hopes students grow to also apply a rather universal lesson taught, and especially utilize it during election years.
“The most important thing is that [when] you guys leave my class or even the science department at Oswego High School… you guys are able to think for yourself and be able to think critically,” Mr. Anderson says.
Molding students into adults was never said to be an easy task, but Mr. Anderson gladly places his students as his top priority, as he realizes it’s the people, such as students and staff, involved in his teaching career that keep him teaching.
“It is about supporting the students, not overwhelming them, [and] understanding that this whole school piece of your guys’ life is, for a lot of you, just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the challenges you guys are facing,” Mr. Anderson says.
His awareness of the possible challenges high schoolers face is not only conveyed to his students but also is helpful to them. Sophomore Elaina (Lainey) Hallick is in Mr. Anderson’s first-period Chemistry class and provides that having this class first period institutes a smooth day of e-learning.
“I think he just makes everyone feel super comfortable in the class, so it’s really easy to…understand things that we’re learning,” Hallick says.
Sophomore Grace O’Reilly, also in Mr. Anderson’s first-period chemistry class, similarly believes this class exhibits a comfortable learning environment and provides for an energetic morning.
“My grade has definitely been up because…he really makes sure you know what’s happening,” O’Reilly says.
A resemblance between teaching and being taught is both the students and the teachers are positively impacted by one another in some way. Yes, school is not always positive for everyone all the time, but there is some positivity easily found that both students and teachers can feel.
“I didn’t realize how much meaning that teaching provided to my life,” Mr. Anderson says.
Sadly, around four years ago, Mr. Anderson had to leave teaching for a few years due to his father becoming terminally ill. During this time, he studied abroad in Brazil and finished his Master’s Degree. Also during this time, he realized teaching in a classroom with students is exactly what he is meant to be doing. Above all else, he believes teaching is more than just teaching; it is preparing students for their lives to come by building a relationship with each and every student to ensure their learning is personalized to their needs.
“Just don’t make any assumptions. Be patient. It’s your role to take them from where they are to… in a sense of where you want them to be, and in that process, you have to be really flexible and understanding,” Mr. Anderson says.