Since it’s National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week, we are saying a warm & heartfelt thank you to one of the many teachers that make our work possible and support Austin’s students: Mr. Bavu Blakes, 7th Grade English Language Arts & Reading Teacher at Decker Middle School.
In case you need to get inspired, we asked Bavu some questions about his teaching philosophy – the answers are guaranteed to give you some warm and fuzzies.
Why did you decide to go into teaching?
I am a scholar. I have always been that way. I am an avid reader and writer. I was interested in teaching at the college level but I wanted to work in my community (he lives in Decker attendance zone) . I wanted to serve my community and the young people. Also, I remember my 8th grade English teacher. She changed the course of history for me. That’s why.
As an English Language Arts teacher, I get to teach a subject that affects all parts of their life. Writing, reading, listening and speaking are the foundation of all things we do.
Bavu Blakes, 7th Grade Teacher at Decker Middle School
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teaching is about building relationships with children. I see it as my job to identify what they need and how to teach them. As an English Language Arts teacher, I get to teach a subject that affects all parts of their life. Writing, reading, listening and speaking are the foundation of all things we do.
My favorite part of my job is seeing students grow and improve – seeing motivation. I love it when a student who presents himself or herself as apathetic starts to become interested and engaged.
How do you motivate and inspire your students?
I keep high expectations for all my students, sometimes much higher expectations that they have for themselves. I have one student who wants to be a rapper. I have a background in the industry, and agreed to help him, but I set very high expectations for him, so I know when he’ll be ready to perform. Once he was ready, I supported him performing at the Austin Urban Music Festival.
I also try to get my students to be thoughtful, I look for content they can relate to and use that to build their critical thinking skills. We watched a video about China’s one child law and I had them ask questions and relate it to their lives. We also cover topics like the children’s marches during the Civil Rights movement and current events like the Clippers controversy.
I also show them instead of telling them. I show them my draft of the same assignment that I ask them to do. I have them revise and edit this. It has helped them learn to peer edit as well as self edit.
What impact do you hope to have on your student’s lives?
I want them to be thankful for all that they have and not take anything for granted. I want them to be hopeful for themselves. I want to uplift them and expose them to new things. I want to convert reluctant readers into passionate readers. If they haven’t found something they like to read yet, we keep looking. There are so many different types of reading material. My mission is I want them to be equipped and encouraged to work, grow, learn and succeed.
How do services, like those provided by UWATX, help you meet the needs of your students?
UWATX gives kids someone they can connect with. I don’t have time to spend an hour each day with a kid who really needs someone to talk to. United Way services give kids a release, someone to talk with, somewhere to belong and learn how to be centered. The services are differentiated and tailored to each individual. It helps address needs my students have that I do not have the capacity to support.
Huge thanks for Bavu for sitting down with us – and for making Austin greater every day!