Teacher Interviews: First Impressions, Perspectives, and Expert Advice
Photo credit: Danielle Chan
Interviewee: Angela Lu
It’s a new school year! This year we have two new grades of freshmen coming to UHill (Grades 8 and 9), which means double the fun. It also means double the amount of confused, lost faces. To help kick off the year with a productive start, we interviewed a couple teachers for their perspectives on UHill, their advice for students, and some fun facts about themselves in general:
When you came to Uhill for the first time, what was your impression of the school?
The first time was at the old school and it was small, very small. And I loved that it had no bells. I found it to be an intimate and cozy school, and it actually turned my mind around being receptive to go through the stages of becoming a teacher.
Would you say the old school was different from the new school?
Yes. Big time. The old school was old; it was darker, and it had this more rustic quality to it. The new school is the complete opposite where it’s modern and full of light, and I love the materials with the glass and the metal and the wood.
What advice would you give to your students, particularly your new students?
I think it would be to strike balance. Don’t stress over everything, but also don’t take the easy road and not do anything. So now’s the time to figure out your learning style, and your working style, and to make mistakes with it because it’s fairly inconsequential in terms of your academic record if you plan on attending higher education.
Just try and take risks but also be ok if you make any mistakes.
For reference, what is something we tend to do as students that dislike?
I’d say the number one thing that I really dislike in students is dishonesty. If you didn’t do homework, or something happened, or if you have to go to get a snack and you say you have to go to the bathroom and you come back with a bag of chips. Just be straight-up about what you’re doing. Don’t try to hide that, because it just doesn’t establish that trust and that character in you. That’s probably the one thing. And I also want students to nourish themselves better with more water and fewer sugary treats, just so that they have level blood sugar throughout the day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what’s something your students do that you love?
Really, I do love all my students. I just think that we’re all special beings walking around. But the thing that really warms my heart is when students, and even students who aren’t my students, see that I’m carrying something heavy in the hallway, or they see I need help, and they’ll be very quick to ask if they can help. I think that shows such great awareness.
What do you think, as a language teacher is the significance of languages in our world today?
I love languages; absolutely love languages. It’s the most fascinating thing ever.
Language is what makes us human, in the form of society. Even animals have language. So I think it’s just a really beautiful reflection of what’s going on in society and the science behind language learning is also supportive of showing how much it can be for maintaining mental health and mental agility. So I think it’s a great thing - and languages can be on computers too, in coding, so it’s not just in humanities.
Seeing as you’re a teacher, and a great one at that, you probably love your job. But if you weren’t a teacher, what would have been your dream job? In other words, what was your dream job growing up?
Oh my goodness, it’s gone the spectrum. Growing up, I really was interested in being a dance choreographer - but I had the worst stage fright, so that was a no-go. I was also really interested in working with food, like ice cream testing. I think that most recently, if I was not a teacher and I had no family ties I would really love to do something like go to war-torn countries or developing countries that need help. Yeah, and, work at an orphanage or volunteer at an orphanage; I think that would be amazing work to do, but I can’t do that with a family right now.
What do you think is the best course at Uhill?
Honestly all the teachers here are so talented, and there’s something to learn from all the teachers. If there’s a course that you should take before leaving Uhill, I would have to say it’s something that builds your personal habits around wellness. So obviously I’m biased towards yoga. But I think taking a senior PE elective of any sort - be it warrior training or PE for sports, or yoga, as I said, for breathing, I think those are very important because you can start discovering a love for stress relief and movement that’s beyond what’s assigned in PE 10 - starting to find those passions outside. But I think that Music’s great, Art’s great, Math’s great, obviously Science is great and Humanities are great. I mean, I took PE 12 when I was in my graduating year and we went camping, which was something my family didn’t do, so I had that experience and it started my love of weight-training . That’s what it brought for me. So I think taking care of your body and your mind is the best investment to make because it will set you up to learn all those other really important things.
Out of all your courses, which is your favorite one to teach?
OK, I love English because I love the subject matter. Sometimes I do find that not all the students are into it though. So that can make for a bit of a challenging dynamic. I love teaching spanish because most of the students are there because they want to be there, and same with yoga: most of the students are there because they are choosing to be there. I love teaching students who want to be there.
If you could say anything to your high school self what would it be?
It would be to dream really big. I went to a high school where there were only about 107 of us graduating - and from that only 11 of us went to post-secondary. Everyone else went to work, or went to work in the trades or trade school. We were all just so focused on staying in the closest city, in the university of the closest city. What is said about your peer group affecting your goals is so true because no one (only one person) looked at going to SFU or UBC, and she ended up going to Edmonton as well. So I wish I had had those larger aspirations to explore a wider variety of schools, not based on geography. That would be my advice to my high school self: Think Big.
What was your first impression of the school?
It was the old school. And it was not a very nice building. My first impression of the building was honestly that it was quite a dump. But I knew we were getting a new school.
But also, I really loved the students and I really loved the staff. That was my first impression.
For reference, what’s something we tend to do as students that you dislike?
2 things that bother me the most. First, the use of phones in class. The reason being that as a drama teacher and in drama, we’re meant to be communicating to each other, and eyes on each other, talking to each other, being around each other, and I feel that the cell phone in the classroom, that technology, takes away from our human contact. Because that’s the whole purpose of drama. And the other thing is the use of other languages to communicate in the classroom, when you’ve got people in the class, plus the teacher, who don’t speak English. That’s wrong in too many ways for me. One being that it’s not inclusive. And number two being that I don’t understand what’s being said, so I don’t know if someone else is being picked on or if someone doesn’t understand what’s going on.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what’s something we as students do that you think is great?
I love how everyone is just so open to try new things in the classroom. That’s what I love. I’ve never had much resistance in trying new things in the classroom, and I think that’s pretty special. When I say would you like to play a new game, hearing “Yes, can you teach us a new one?” just makes me so happy.
Pineapple or no pineapple on pizza?
Absolutely no pineapple. End of discussion.
Seeing as you’re a great teacher who teaches a bunch of different courses, which one is your favorite course to teach? (we won’t take offense)
I absolutely love all my courses. But if I had to choose one, I’d say theater is my passion. Theater and drama are my things. Film and television only came a few years ago, because students asked me to do it. Stagecraft, was because my predecessor had a stagecraft class, so I felt that I also needed to have a stagecraft class. Luckily for us we have it, or else our shows would lie on my shoulders, so not just directing, but also lighting and getting the sound and props and costumes, that might be too much to handle. But drama is my thing.
If you could say anything to your high school self, what would it be?
It would be: Don’t be so offended. When I was in high school, although I was extroverted I was very much an introvert, and I was always afraid and offended by what other people said. Criticism especially offended me, that was my personality, and I think that really held me back from success. So to accept criticism and don’t be so offended. And listen to your mother!
Do you have any advice for freshmen? How can we do well in your courses?
Have an open mind. Listen. Try new things. Always try different ways of expressing yourself. And just be ready, and I think that would be my best advice.
Thanks to the teachers who offered their very helpful and much-appreciated viewpoints, and best of luck to everyone for this school year!