David Isenbart named one of two Will Rogers Junior High (WRJH) Site Teacher of the Year recipients.
Sometimes the best teachers were a bit challenging as students; Mr. Isenbart openly admits he was one of those mischievous students. He will also disclose that his junior high woodshop teachers helped him through those difficult times. This experience made a lasting impression on him throughout his college, leading him to choose to be a junior high technology education teacher.
He believes an outstanding teacher motivates students to do things they didn't think they could do, one who also gives students the tools that will make them successful in life - not just pass a state test. "The outstanding teachers that I remember most are the ones who gave me self-confidence and taught me that my failures were just another opportunity to learn," he shared.
Using hands-on projects and inquiry reinforces and motivates students to learn the concepts taught. One of the most effective ways to measure the competency of a skill is to teach others, explaining, "I encourage students to help other students by showing them how to do something. My students often hear me say, "teach them to fish don't give them a fish."
Being nervous is a natural part of trying something new - nervous about making a mistake, nervous about failing, nervous about not measuring up. Isenbart creates an environment where making mistakes is a stepping stone to success, "I encourage my students to try different ways to do something and embrace failure as another part of the learning process and not a final defeat." This safe space allows students to face their fear and press forward to success.
We compete in almost everything we do in life. When a student asks, "Is this good enough for an 'A,' they are not striving to do their very best. When a student asks, "Is this good enough to be the very best or to win," you know a life-long learning mindset is in place." This growth mindset and high level of understanding of the concepts allow them to push their project to go faster, or further, or higher.
This attitude has been the foundation for this model program for the state. With several TSA national championships and robotics teams qualifying for Worlds, he is no stranger to student success, but that is not what defines him as a teacher; he shared, "The trophies on the wall really look good, but what I hope they are learning is how to be better leaders, speakers, employees, and employers. I want my students to have the confidence and the ability to do anything they choose!"