Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life of ... Dr Steven Van Zoost: Feature

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life of ... Dr Steven Van Zoost: Feature

Article excerpt

For this Canadian teacher, 'The Shire' (aka his classroom) is a place of adventure, where students enjoy light-bulb moments of discovery and deep conversations about humanity.

I arrive at school early: early enough to greet my neighbouring colleagues as they arrive, early enough to boot up the class computer and open the files needed for the day, and early enough to meet students before teaching begins.

My classroom, nicknamed "The Shire", is like a second home to me. I have brought in lamps, art, student supplies and bookshelves that, to me at least, hold the promise of discovering new worlds. A highlight of my job is creating unexpected instances of learning for students - a "light-bulb" moment when the brain makes a new and meaningful connection. Often this occurs through literature but more usually it happens during our classroom conversations.

I teach three courses - two in advanced English with the 11th and 12th grades (ages 16-18) and a 12th-grade film and video production course - in one-hour classes at Avon View High School in Nova Scotia, Canada.

I teach five classes a day and every second day I have one hour for marking and preparation. Today is such a day, and I use that "prep period" to meet a colleague to discuss strategies for assessing speaking and listening skills in our courses. I have worked with this colleague for 18 years in various schools, grade levels and subjects and we love learning, and teaching, together.

At lunch, The Shire is always busy. Most often, I eat in my classroom - although I make a conscious effort to go to the small staffroom to chat. Not many teachers go there anyway; they, too, are busy with students. In my classroom, students spend their lunchtime on computers (often editing video footage for the film course that I teach), with me or with each other - in a space where they feel comfortable.

I check my emails to see what kind of workload awaits me. …

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