Sheryl Silva nominated Vincent Eisman for Class Acts. Silva said Eisman is energetic and vivacious, and follows the state-recommended curriculum while promoting learning by exploration. Silva said she never has met a teacher so devoted, and that Eisman genuinely cares about the kids and is focused on making a difference.
- Name: Vincent Eisman
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Why did you get into teaching? I discovered how incredibly joyous learning is quite late in life. I was in a community college history course and the world opened up to me: literature, art, music, philosophy, science, politics, religion, world cultures. It seemed there was nothing in life that was not interesting. I had to share this excitement with someone. To figure out where I belonged, I taught as a substitute by day and attended college at night. The choice was obvious. Kids are a blast and they're still curious.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I get to know a lot of kids and their parents, and we explore. A group of kids and I have the whole world before us. If they have questions and wonderings, I get to guide them on their discovery.
Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: The game of Go. Go is a 4,000-year-old strategy game from Asia. One begins with an empty grid and places stones on the board, building territory through the game. Whereas chess is a game of attrition, Go is a game of balance that draws on intuition and critical thinking. The game has tremendous classroom and life applications that I'm just beginning to tap into. Teachers can receive a free introductory kit for their classroom at www.usgo.org/agf.
What's next in your classroom? A simulated archaeological excavation of a Chumash burial site and family Go night. We're also having a field trip to study salmon migration just before Thanksgiving break.
Advice for new teachers: I remind myself all the time that teaching is ultimately about relationships. We have to trust our students and parents to help them trust us. I think if we are all willing to take more risks on an interpersonal level, the partnerships between school, home and community will be amazing. You can see evidence of this in videos at www.edutopia.org, George Lucas' education foundation.
Advice for students: Live life. Ask lots of questions and explore everything you can. Beg your parents to take you to museums. Get a musical instrument into your hands. Life is a journey, take all the interesting paths.
What would surprise people about your job? It never can be mastered. It is an eternal and wholly worthy challenge, however.
COMPILED BY JILLIAN HANKS, BEE NEWSROOM ASSISTANT