El Monte, California
Michael Weller teaches AP U.S. History, Ethnic Studies, and Journalism at Mountain View High School in El Monte, California, where he also serves as social science department chair, accreditation co-chair, and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) adviser. Michael also works part-time with the Los Angeles County Office of Education as an induction mentor to beginning teachers, and serves each year as a chairperson for accreditation visits to Los Angeles-area schools with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). He is interested in decolonizing education, critical pedagogy, incorporating local history in instruction, teacher education and induction, the teaching of writing, and teacher-leadership in educational change efforts. Michael enjoys reading, gardening, coffee, watching soccer and baseball, visiting the California desert, and spending time with his wife and the two dogs and six cats who share their house.
Early in my career, I attended a professional development at which the presenter stressed the importance of “seeing every interaction through the eyes of the kids.” This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with the kids or do whatever they want, but that we should always measure our decisions thoughtfully and with careful regard as to how a student might perceive our actions. I also had a mentor, Armen Petrossian, who once remarked that he saw teaching as a dialogue between teachers and students (later I discovered this idea in Freire and other critical pedagogues). Armen also noted that one of the defining characteristics of successful teaching was a positive, trusting relationship between teacher and student (he compared it to the importance of trust between a physician and a patient). While of course this is actually three quotes, I think that each one reveals an important aspect of my teaching philosophy; moreover, each of these aspects is deeply interconnected. That is: teachers must demonstrate humility, empathy, and sincere respect for students’ perceptions and values; teachers must share their power and support students in discovering and articulating their voices; and teachers must, above all, earn their students’ trust by demonstrating love and genuine concern for the students as individuals and as equals.
English and History