Note: For the remainder of 2015, Pitsco Education will be running a series of blogs showcasing the Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). Four questions will be addressed for each TAG member in the blog series.
Pitsco Education’s TAG member Karn Gustafson is a teacher at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A teacher for 18 years, he teaches a wide range of classes including Computer-Aided Drafting for Engineers, Computer-Aided Drafting for Architects, Stagecraft/Theatrical Design, US History, Biology, and Computer Graphics and has taken over the Digital Film Production program for the 2014-2015 school year. He is actively involved in his school’s MESA (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) Club, “a pre-college program that prepares students for college and careers in mathematics, engineering, science, or technically related fields.” Karn has a bachelor’s degree in Health Education from the University of New Mexico and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Learning Technologies from New Mexico State University.
Read on for Karn's responses to questions about teaching.
What is something unique about your classroom?
I actually have two classrooms. One of them is half computer lab and half fabrication lab. There are 36 Mac computers that are running both OS X as well as Windows, 34 professional drafting desks, a CNC laser cutter/engraver, five 3-D printers, two wind tunnels, two earthquake-simulation tables, a Promethean board, and a myriad of hand tools. In my second classroom, I have 26 Macs running industry-standard video editing software, a voiceover booth, video/television broadcasting equipment, chroma-key technology, as well as all the tools necessary to build Hollywood-quality box sets.
Please provide a best tip for classroom management.
I think the best tip(s) for classroom management is to have clear, concise expectations; a rigorous and challenging curriculum; and the ability to laugh at yourself and with the students. School should be a serious place, but if you can’t have some fun, why bother?
What is your best piece of advice for a new teacher?
Find a teacher or 12 on campus you can talk to, cry with, and lean on. If you try to do it by yourself, you are going to have a nervous breakdown. We were all there and probably have memories (good and bad, some of mine are still nightmares, ha ha) and are willing to help those who want to fight the good fight alongside us.
What do you hope to gain from being a member of TAG?
As a member of TAG, I hope to learn new and innovative ways to challenge and excite my students as well as myself. I have always thought that it was so sad that teachers (at least in my state) no longer have to do CEUs [continuing education units]. This is just one of the ways I hope to keep myself up to date and prevent stagnation, the poison that can make the best teacher rapidly decline.
to learn more about TAG or read the short bios of all the 2015 TAG members.