Silver Apple Awards

Silver Apple Award: Kyle Simpson, Dysart High School

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Megan, 14, nominated Dysart High School science teacher Mr. Simpson for the Silver Apple Award because, "he encourages his students to try their best, he always has a positive attitude, and he loves his job." In her nomination letter she continues to say that "he uses several types of teaching techniques so that every student can relate."

The love that Mr. Simpson has for his students is what keeps him moving forward. Mr. Simpson shares a passion for teaching and continues to inspire his students everyday. We asked him to share some of his experiences with us.

City of Residence: I currently reside in the city of Surprise.

Why did you decide to get into teaching? I have had some really inspirational teachers/professors throughout my educational career. I wanted to be able to share my love for biology & learning with my students & colleagues!

What is your favorite teaching moment? That’s hard to answer! I have to say the look in the students’ eyes when they finally “get it.” Our students have this fixed mindset of “I can’t do this!” However, we can help them grow and fix that mindset into an “I can do it” mindset.

How did you feel when you realized you won the Sliver Apple award?  I was shocked! I wasn’t expecting the reward! It’s always great to be recognized by your peers & colleagues, but it’s another story when it’s your students! Truly an amazing experience!

What do you plan on doing with the $500 grant?  I haven’t quite thought of that yet! I initially thought of investing the money into an aquarium of some sort to give the students a real “biology” classroom feel! We can use the aquarium to help guide us through the various units of study in the class such as ecology or organismal dependence.

Please share one of your best practices in the classroom with us. (We will use this to share with other teachers, etc.)  One of my best practices (still in progress) is my use of formative assessments. I give exit slips on objectives I want to be enduring understandings to the students (at least 2-3 a week). These exit slips are assessed on a scale of 0-2. If a person receives a 0, they didn’t either attempt the problem, have any prior knowledge of the concept, or possibly gave an inapplicable answer. A person can receive a score of 1 if they demonstrate mild mastery (maybe they gave the conceptual process, but didn’t proceed to give an explanation or description). A person can earn a 2 if they demonstrate full mastery of the problem & even take the understanding beyond what was asked in the initial question. For example, the student might give the definition of a process, describe the process, & even relate the process to a real-world example or cross-curricular discipline. Students who do not quite demonstrate mastery the 1st time are just pulled into small groups by me, discuss the problem (re-teach), and then reassess for mastery. Students who did demonstrate mastery are able to move onto to the next concept we will be studying.

What advice, if any, would you give to new teachers starting their career in the teaching industry? Be patient! Seek out resources and answers to questions when you need them. Never stop asking questions & if a lesson fails, be reflective about it so the next time you implement it, you can tackle if from a different angle.  Don’t give up!

What was the greatest life lesson you've learned through your teaching experience that has affected your personal life? Patience! I truly have learned patience from the practice, students, and staff. It’s ok to fail, but don’t let it overcome you and your teaching. This practice is a profession where no matter how many years you’ve been teaching, you can continually grow and learn not just from your students, but also from yourself!