The age jump from middle school to high school is significant—not only for students, but for teachers as well. Teaching kids with even a slight age difference can be a big change. This is the challenge John Shim is facing as he begins teaching his first high school class.
Despite being a new teacher, Shim is taking on two new subjects for classes: Math and STEM. He also volunteered to tackle the challenge of being the Science club advisor for the first time because of his passion for science. Growing up in the Big Island, he graduated from Hilo High School and later, San Jose State College. Before coming to Kaiser, Shim taught in middle schools for seven years, including Dole Middle School (where he taught for one year). There, he realized that he wanted a new experience teaching high school students. “High school is way better,” Shim said. “The best thing is, the students are a lot more independent than elementary or middle school students.”
Shim is very organized, and likes to be prepared. Even before quarantine, he spent the whole summer organizing his classwork, “I got the feeling that this was going to happen anyways so I spent the entire summer prepping for this, and I think it paid off,” Shim said. Because of his readiness, online school was unproblematic. Though he’s only had experience with in person teaching and there has been some challenges with computer issues, he enjoys distance learning, and actually likes some things about it: recordings allow more organization, asynchronous activities and breakout rooms create flexibility. Even with these positives, Shim looks forward to the day he can welcome his students in person.
Although Shim can’t personally connect to his students as he would in-person, he thinks his students are great. He enjoys working with his new students, and appreciates their diligence when working independently. He wants his students to prioritize “turning things in on time,” he says, and to “learn from their mistakes.” “His assignments are very team based, and he allows us to learn from each other,” says Victoria Velez, a senior from Shim’s STEM class. “I think he’s very understanding and cooperative if anyone needs anything.”
Shim is not only an understanding teacher, but he also supports teamwork, and wants his students to learn, rather than just take in information. He hopes to broaden their horizons to a world of opportunities through his classes, and teaches in a variety of ways to help all of his students thrive at their own pace.