Our featured teacher for July is Mr. Jay Huss of Washington School District! Mr. Huss is busy preparing to get back in the classroom, where he specializes in computer and technology education, including the Inventionland Innovation Course.
“My enthusiasm and love of technology is ever-present in any course and, especially, Inventionland,” said Mr. Huss.
A veteran of 27 school years, Mr. Huss has taught high school, middle school, and elementary students. It’s hard to tell who is having the most fun in his classroom!
“Student-driven and action-based classes are the heart and soul of my teaching career,” said Mr. Huss. “Facilitating the self-learning process and recognizing student success is glory beyond words. Certainly, I have just as much fun as my students and I try to teach by example. If I am enjoying what I’m doing my students are more likely to enjoy what they’re doing each day. Kidding aside, I do have fun exploring and learning something new. Even better, understanding something that I wasn’t quite sure of or filling in those pesky voids-of-knowledge.”
Mr. Huss has plenty of thoughts on being prepared as well as learning on the fly. Check out the interview in it’s entirety:
What is the hardest part about planning for the next school year?
The hardest part of planning for next school year is basically not knowing what the schedule will look like. Unlike many courses which tend to stay the same, it is unreasonable to assume that my schedule will look the same as it did the previous year. Understandably, the number of students that we will have and the opportunity’s with respect to specials and other course offerings can change dramatically. Creatively speaking, the unknown variables of scheduling help to avoid the stagnation and often lead to an invigorating and powerful school year.
Are you the kind of person who likes to be very prepared, or do you prefer to adjust on the fly?
Prepared vs. on the fly – let me walk you through my state of mind. I’m not the type of teacher that is overly prepared and so by design. Let me be clear, my classroom is ready to roll on day one. Everything is in position, the calendar shows the correct month, my desk is where I like it and the look of the room is kind and not intimidating. Outside of this, the way I shape my course is based on the young lives sitting in front of me. Curriculum information is our road map however, how we get there is based on the individual needs and desires of those along on the journey with me. I have a simple teaching plan of action which I have used for many years and that is, “only teach things which will benefit my students in their lifetime.”
Do things end up the way you planned? Or are there surprises along the way?
The word “planned” seems so innocent. I try to plan for everything and only recognize about a 50% success rate. That said, I expect and welcome surprises. I remain flexible regardless of the issues like scheduling, behavior, budget or simply tech-apathy. Some things end up exactly as I planned for example: my coffee is warm and close by in the morning and lunch happens like clockwork – everything else is subject to change.
Are student-driven classes like the Inventionland Innovation Course fun for you as an educator?
Yes, student-driven and action-based classes are the heart and soul of my teaching career. Facilitating the self-learning process and recognizing student success is glory beyond words. Certainly, I have just as much fun as my students and I try to teach by example. If I am enjoying what I’m doing my students are more likely to enjoy what they’re doing each day. Kidding aside, I do have fun exploring and learning something new. Even better, understanding something that I wasn’t quite sure of or filling in those pesky voids-of-knowledge.
How long have you been a teacher at Washington Junior High?
I’ve been with the district 27 years yet I have only taught at the Junior High level for roughly 10 of those. High school Technology Education is where I began in the early 90’s. Teaching Middle/Junior High and even Elementary was a district need and, looking back, an opportunity for me to experience a wider variety. My enthusiasm and love of technology is ever-present in any course and especially Inventionland.
Where did you graduate from? What was your major?
Let’s see, I graduated back in 1990 from California University of Pennsylvania in Industrial Arts/Technology Education. I student taught here at Washington School District and hung around till now. Of course, I have experienced some phenomenal students and courses along the way. Looking back, the Inventionland Innovation course is, by far, the most difficult to explain to students yet the most beneficial and life-changing. I can’t tell you how many students say to me at the end of the course, “I wish I would have….” I always respond with the same thing, “What’s stopping you?”