Teachers on Teaching

What makes teaching at Baylor Unique?

"What makes teaching at Baylor unique? I think that the answer lies in the challenge. Baylor teachers challenge their students daily, helping them grow and discover their capabilities, which is expected in a school of its caliber. More importantly, Baylor continually challenges teachers to improve themselves and their methods and serve as a model of excellence for their students.

To many, Latin is a subject that inspires fear and dread, but to me it is its own challenge. When I came to Baylor in 1990 as a veteran teacher, I accepted the task of imparting knowledge of Latin to eighth grade students. My personal challenge was to make the study of this 'dead' language palatable to those same students. It is not easy keeping Latin fresh and alive to children living in a world where instant gratification takes too long. I continually ask them to memorize volumes of items – vocabulary, rules, and forms – and on top of this to process the information in a meaningful manner. There are few short cuts and no 'cheat keys' to carry them to the next level in this grammar game!

To my intense satisfaction Baylor has proven the perfect environment in which to meet this goal. It has encouraged me to explore alternative methods of learning, teaching, and assessment, provided me with the tools I need, and trained me to use the new technology that helps make lessons, even in an ancient language, 'pop' for my students. The most important tool that I have used however has been my colleagues.

Even before the advent of Critical Friends Groups – units of faculty from all disciplines and grade levels who meet to discuss teaching methodology and explore ways for individuals to enhance their own quality of teaching though observation – formalized the process, the willingness of my co-workers to help each other was amazing. Each of my fellow teachers is agreeable to impromptu sessions in the work room where rubrics are updated, handouts are proofread for the error that always slips through and instructions intended for students are reviewed. I wonder how many times I have asked a colleague 'Pretend you are a seventh grader and tell me what you think of this?' Every time the advice has been sound and a roadblock to progress removed.

Each day at Baylor is a challenge. My students continue to find new ways to surprise me. Just when I think I have finally figured out how to teach Latin successfully, here comes another new idea and another new class with its own agenda. But Baylor, through its administration and the example of my colleagues, keeps me up to date and challenges me to move out of complacency and into the next level of professional growth."

Kristin Vines
Foreign Language
Instructor
Middle School

KRISTIN VINES

" To my intense satisfaction Baylor has proven the perfect environment in which to meet this goal. It has encouraged me to explore alternative methods of learning, teaching, and assessment, provided me with the tools I need, and trained me to use the new technology that helps make lessons, even in an ancient language, 'pop' for my students."