El Estoque

The learning never stops

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Back to Article

The learning never stops

Jai Uparkar

The bell rings, signaling the beginning of Jessica Zahn’s French 3 class. Her students file in, their murmurs filling the room. Walking into room B212 is Math teacher Jon Stark, having used one of his prep periods for his class with Ms. Zahn. He’s taken her class for his language-learning journey that started two years ago.

“French has a lot of use for me,” Stark said. “[ I ] love to go climbing and in particular in the Alps, in the French Alps. And, if I go to a place like Chamane to climb, everyone speaks French, except me. So it seemed like the natural thing to do: to learn some French.”

Stark’s passion for French also stemmed from his interest in French cinema and wanting to appreciate the subtleties of the dialogue without subtitles, one of his favorites being New Wave. He currently studies with the new French teacher Janissa Zahn.

Students who learn a new language gain a new way to communicate with their surroundings, which also broadens their views. Teachers teaching the subject are not only in charge of conveying the essentials of the new language, but they are also in charge of helping students learn of other cultures. “Teaching” teachers is a learning experience as well as an inspiration for teachers.

“I think at first it is a little nerve wracking because then you feel like this person is gonna judge me, but I think it’s great and in fact it’s kind of inspired me to think well what do I want to learn?” Zahn said. “But I just love the idea, I thinks it’s great. I think it’s very inspiring.”

Learning a new language can be for anyone. Four years ago, Spanish teacher Joyce Fortune found herself a new student in her colleague, Math teacher Sushma Bana. Although being friends, Fortune taught and treated Bana as though she were just another student, she gradually assimilated into their class.

“So Ms. Fortuna was really nice, I asked her if she would mind if I was a student in her class and she said, ‘You’re serious, like a student?’ and I said ‘Yeah I really want to be a student’,” Bana said. “She says, ‘Ok’.”

Bana’s desire to learn Spanish so late in life inspired Fortune to think of what she wanted to learn as well. She expressed her interest in taking choir and even a yoga class, specifically a group formed among teachers at MVHS.

“I mean you guys don’t realize what you have available to you in high school because you have to do it,” Fortune said. “When you get out of school and your working, there are thing you want to learn and you don’t have the time to learn them.”

It is a learning experience for both teachers, as they benefit from the presence of each other. Teachers learning gain an insight as to what it feels like to be a student. The language teachers in turn become more conscious of their teaching style.

“It made me think of how someone else was seeing my teaching which made me think about it more,” Fortune said. “Like if the admin comes in to observe you then you are more aware, more thoughtful of what you’re doing and how it’s coming across and what you’re succeeding at. In that sense I think it kind of raised my consciousness a little bit.”Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 8.55.33 PM

With the presence of another teacher beside her, Zahn received guidance when it came to students. Since she is new, Stark provided information and some background for her students. Alongside that, he helped her with seating arrangements for her class.

In light of taking a language class, both Bana and Stark gained valuable insight on the daily lives and stress of a MVHS students, making small but beneficial adjustments in the way they ran their class. As students, they witnessed key pressure points that created stress and the amount of time spent at school while balancing other commitments.

“I sit with them and I see the things that they’re going through and are concerned about and it isn’t all what I would’ve expected,” Stark said. “I know that my practices have adjusted according to what I know, and it has a influence on how I run my classes daily, having a little more on what it’s like being a student.”

Teachers learning from each other in different classrooms gain new experiences, and it helps them not only grow as teachers but also gain new skills with which they can apply to their community. Language is a bridge which anyone can cross, meet and find understanding within each other.

“He [Stark] wanted to learn it,” Zahn said. “So I’m like hey anyone that wants to learn the language, it doesn’t matter how old you are, what your background is, I think it’s definitely something I’d commend him for.”

Additional reporting by Karen Sanchez.

About the Writer
Jai Uparkar, Features Editor
Jai Uparkar is a junior and a second-year staff member. She previously served as a multimedia news editor, and now serves as a print features editor. She plays tennis and in her free time, she likes to take Buzzfeed quizzes and spend time with her friends.