The Art of Teaching. Mr. Stephen Freer is a 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher and Level Leader, and Middle School Debate Coach in Istanbul, Turkey. This is his sixth year teaching at the Hisar School! What a pleasure it was for us to welcome Stephen and his early career teaching experience to the University of West Florida’s TeacherReady program as he began his journey to professional certification. Now, as he moves toward completion of TeacherReady, we wanted to highlight some of his experiences teaching abroad.
Stephen began his work in Istanbul as a English Time tutor. Not unlike his roles and responsibilities now as a 7th grade classroom teacher, Stephen shares on his LinkedIn page, “As an English Time teacher, my main responsibilities were to ensure an engaging and effective classroom environment. I mainly applied the CELTA method and project-based learning.” When he transitioned to teaching at an internationally-minded K-12 school he had, “very talented and generous mentors.”
I will never forget how essential their advice and guidance was, and I try to carry that spirit of generosity to my current role as seventh grade level leader. Teaching is a profession which requires constant growth, and our colleagues are some of our best resources for professional development. As a level leader, I try to create an atmosphere of sharing and teamwork as we strive collectively to improve our curriculum, rubrics, and methods of instruction.
When I first connected with Stephen it was a quick note. I let him know how much I had connected with his story, with his passion for educating young people. Here are two highlights:
“Our curriculum includes many young adult books including The Diary of Anne Frank and we are fortunate enough to be able to visit the Anne Frank Museum [and Westerbork Transit Camp] in Amsterdam. Passing on my passion for literature is only a part of what motivates me as a teacher. I love to show students how far they have come and help them monitor their progress while building confidence in their educational life. However, I have come to realize that student motivation is the biggest hurdle to truly impressive progress. In order to develop grit, 21st century skills, and higher levels of critical thinking, students must have a high level of motivation. This is especially tricky for middle school age groups. Therefore, I make sure that students are able to see how everything we learn in English class can be transferred to other areas of their world. My favorite moment as a teacher came when a student took a class presentation about their hero to the next level. As part of her research, this seventh grader found another teenager who had made a positive difference in the world by starting a charity to help girls in Africa receive an education. She contacted this girl and began working with her to help her charity. My student felt empowered enough to create a real life-changing experience for herself. Seeing her transfer the ‘big ideas’ we learned in the classroom and achieve something independently is my goal for all of my students. When I establish a balance of comfortable rapport in the classroom with a feeling of academic challenge and clear understanding of where we are going and how we get there, I end the school year with a real sense of pride. Most of all, I love seeing that same sense of pride and ownership in my students.”
As with all of our teacher candidates teaching in the U.S. and abroad, Stephen’s story and art of teaching is an awesome reminder to our TeacherReady team of how grateful we are. We have the opportunity to listen to the stories of many passionate individuals who come to TeacherReady for the opportunity to become a teacher, and to make a difference in the lives of students. Thank you, Stephen, for being a wonderful ambassador of TeacherReady and a fire starter for your students.
Know someone who would be a great teacher? For more information about earning a professional teaching certificate or license, contact TeacherReady at 850-898-3949 or visit or connect with current teacher candidates and alumni on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/teacherreadyprogram.
Become a teacher with the assistance of TeacherReady. TeacherReady offers individuals an opportunity to earn a professional teaching certificate from the State of Florida; it was developed by teachers for teachers and is a member of the NCATE/CAEP accredited Professional Education Unit at the University of West Florida.