PORTLAND, Ore. – Brandis Piper came to Lewis & Clark knowing he wanted to be a teacher, and he has followed his goals to that end. Piper, a 2012 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences, is now enrolled in the Graduate School of Education & Counseling, continuing higher education at his alma mater.
Before leaving the undergraduate campus, however, Piper left a lasting mark through his involvement within the school. He dedicated himself to the Pioneer football team, starting as a wide receiver all four years. He was also the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) co-chair and Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) representative, the Northwest Conference SAAC executive council secretary and president, a Student-Athlete mentor, a Student Life intern in athletic administration, and volunteered for the Oregon Special Olympics. Due to all these involvements and more, Piper received the Pioneer Athletics Club Male Senior Career Award for the 2011-12 year. This award is given for exceptional contributions each year as a student-athlete in the areas of athletics, scholarship, and service and leadership to the athletic department and campus community.
Outside of athletics, Piper was the ASLC Student Organizations Coordinator, a student-alumni ambassador, a senior gift committee member, a senior experience committee member, an admissions blogger, a Woodrow Wilson fellowship finalist, a tutor at Wilson high school, a Lewis & Clark College reunion assistant, and an Indigenous Ways of Knowing resident assistant.
In the previous blog post, Piper shared the beginning of his program at the graduate school, and explained why exactly he wanted to be a teacher.
Now, Piper is working in a classroom at Cleveland High School as well as continuing classes at the graduate school.
Blog Entry #2
From College to High School
I didn't know exactly what to expect when I started teaching. I volunteered at Wilson High School last year, but that made my expectations even more muddled. I wavered between thinking it would be similar to my high school experience or my experience at Wilson. I was definitely nervous going into the situation because it was the first time I entered a classroom with the title "teacher" attached to my name.
So far, my experience in the classroom has been awesome. I really enjoy my students and my mentor teacher. I definitely notice a different vibe in the classroom compared to my previous experiences, because I am not in the role of a student. As a teacher, it's different because students see me as a resource not a peer. I like helping the students and serving as this resource for them.
It took time for me to start establishing a rapport with the different students I work with and for them to warm up to me as their teacher. The more I'm at Cleveland and the more I interact with the students the better the relationship has become. I also understand the difficulties teachers face on a daily basis more clearly now, because even though I experienced it as a student I never understood it like a teacher.
Grad school curriculum for the most part has prepared me really well for this experience. I notice myself subconsciously implementing practices I learned in class into my classroom. It's as simple as working to not tower over students, instead crouching next to them or sitting in a seat at a desk nearby, or knowing what teaching strategies or methods work best for different students.
As classes have moved from broader theory to more specific practice I have been able to incorporate more of my classroom learning directly into my interactions with students. Grad school class discussions on the reading or topics we study help me in the classroom, because they provide different perspectives that color and enhance my experiences and make me a better educator.
From this experience, I will take away the models that the professors at Lewis & Clark provide in the classroom. I will take how they handle the class, the way topics are presented, and the activities we do, then try to implement them in my own classroom.
I will also take forward that every student has a story and that all of these stories need to be respected and valued for students to succeed in the classroom.
The next step for me is continuing classes for the next few weeks, until November. In November, I will take over one class as a full time teacher for the rest of the year. I will again take on more classes in March, but just have one for now. To prepare for spending all my time at Cleveland, I'm planning my unit on African Colonization and the lessons that it includes.
Just taking it one day at a time, trying to enjoy everything I'm doing and learn something along the way.