This post shares the story of a teacher and coach, and a student-athlete who was the first in his family to graduate college, attend graduate school, and aspires to become a Mathematics professor. It's the first entry in a blog series that will highlight some tremendous educators with whom I’ve been privileged to work. The series shows that we're all part of something bigger.
Being a highly effective teacher is not just about successful strategies within the four classroom walls. Everything teachers do, in the hallway, assemblies, athletic courts and fields, impacts kids. Every seemingly simple action or conversation has the potential to hook their hearts and help students get one step closer to achieving their academic potential.
Part one features Jason McGeorge, a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher and varsity football coach from Wake County, North Carolina.
Jason McGeorge and I shared a classroom and collaborated on lesson plans and assessment creation for four years. In addition to watching him teach every day, we also went through the grueling year of reflection involved in National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification together. We would watch each other’s videotaped lessons at lunch and point out strengths and weaknesses in our written responses. Thanks to some great mentors, we both received National Board Certification on our first attempt, which is only realized by about 40% of applicants. However, Mr. McGeorge and I had very different teaching styles.
Mr. McGeorge is a 6’3” 270 lb. former football player and coach. He could yell “Be quiet!” in a bellowing voice that would silence a classroom on a dime. He could pull off a naturally authoritative demeanor that would seem royally unauthentic for me. To be fair, while he may have come across as commanding and hard-nosed because he expected greatness from his students and players, he also had a softer side when students would come to him for help. This teaching style worked for him, and clearly worked for his students, because I watched them sign up for his electives year after year. And they thrived!
Not only did Mr. McGeorge’s classes have some of the highest proficiency rates. Mr. McGeorge’s students also exceeded their growth expectations. He landed at a Level 4 or 5, the highest teacher effectiveness levels, every year since North Carolina began providing value-added data to CTE teachers. As an athlete and a coach, Mr. McGeorge’s data-driven competitiveness paid dividends to his students.
The video shows a glimpse of how Mr. McGeorge ticks, but more importantly, it tells the story of a student he impacted. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Students want to excel on assessments in order to have postsecondary options. Teachers want to master their craft and make a positive impact. But being a high-impact teacher is about much more than producing high test scores. It’s part of something bigger by opening doors for students and changing the trajectory of their lives. Thank you, Mr. McGeorge, for doing just that.