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Jack of all ‘grades’: Godwin teacher’s past teaching multiple grades

Typically, teachers spend the majority of their careers working with the same age range, whether that be elementary, middle, or high school students. However, this was not the case for one of Godwin’s math teachers. 

Godwin math teacher Glen Mott has experience teaching students of all ages. Mott started his teaching career as a fourth grade elementary school teacher in Rochester, NY, moved to Northern Virginia, where he continued teaching elementary school, and eventually made his way to Henrico where he has taught both middle and high school.

Mott spent seven years teaching elementary school, and his time was spent with both fourth and fifth graders. When he began teaching middle school, he taught various grades and courses of math. 

For the past four years, he has taught high school math at Godwin. 

Mott decided to transfer to teaching high school to be able to teach students as they are nearing the end of their academic careers.

“I transferred to high school because I had been part of the beginning and middle of students’ academic journey, and wanted to now be a part of the final stretch to graduation and moving on to bigger and better things,” said Mott.

When starting his career as a high school teacher, the transition was fairly smooth.

“I thought the switch was relatively easy because I had already been teaching high school courses in middle school,” said Mott.

One of the biggest reasons Mott chose to switch to teaching high school was the desire to serve as a mentor rather than a parental figure for his students. 

“I feel that teachers in high school are more of a mentor to students whereas in elementary school; you are more of a parental figure. The difference in this dynamic at this point of my life was a big draw for me to move up to high school,” said Mott. 

Moving from elementary school to high school was a big change for Mott. There are parts of teaching elementary school that he misses and does not miss.

“I do miss the fun of being an elementary teacher. I would organize games during recess and participate with my students. I would also go with them to their PE class frequently and join in. The amount of time you spend with a class really allowed me to get to know my students really well,” said Mott. “I do not miss having to teach all the subjects. I was able to teach just math and science at one point, but combining that with history and language arts takes a lot of planning and work.”. 

Since Mott had worked in a middle school for several years between working at an elementary school and working at a high school, he felt more prepared for the age range of students he would be working with when moving to Godwin.

“With the time I spent in middle school, I feel that the move up to high school was not that much different. I probably would have had a very difficult time if I had tried to make the jump directly from elementary to high school,” said Mott. 

When he began teaching high school at Godwin, Mott was surprised by the size of the school compared to the high school he attended as a student.

“The size of the school took some getting used to for sure. My own high school had a total of under 600 students and Godwin has over 1,700. I graduated with 130 students versus 450 at Godwin,” said Mott. 

Mott has had different experiences when teaching elementary, middle, and high school. He has different preferences for each, but overall he is happy to be teaching high school level math. 

“Elementary, middle, and high school all have very different dynamics with the content you teach and the relationships you develop with your students. There are some things I miss about teaching at the lower levels and others I don’t. At this point of my life, I would say I definitely prefer being in high school. I really enjoy seeing the progression of students as they move towards graduation,” said Mott. 

Teaching the same students throughout the day in elementary school made it easier for Mott to make connections with his students in comparison to teaching several different classes of students for a shorter period in high school. 

“It was easier in some ways with elementary because you had the same students all day long. High school you have to try and make those connections and impart the content in a relatively short amount of time,” said Mott. 

When comparing elementary aged-children with high school students, Mott describes their different levels of motivators and distractions and how these can be used for success. 

“High school students have many different factors that motivate them and they also have many factors that can distract them. Elementary students have fewer motivators but also fewer distractors. How well the students handle those motivators and distractors really makes a difference in their success,” said Mott. 

As an elementary school teacher, Mott taught a variety of subjects but as a high school teacher, he only teaches math courses and is able to go into greater details on the subject. 

“The curriculum in elementary was interesting because of the variety of things I was able to do. I only teach math courses in high school so I am able to focus on the content and get more in-depth with the material. Now that I am in high school I enjoy having the time and ability to focus on the content in high school,” said Mott. 

After many changes in his teaching career, between teaching at different schools and teaching a variety of different grade levels, Mott is happy to be teaching math courses to the high school students at Godwin. 

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