Mike Gavin teaches Religion, Math, Science, English, Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Vocabulary to fourth-graders of grade school.
Gavin, who attended St. Katharine’s for grade school, grew up in Wayne and attended . He went to Wesley College in Delaware for his undergraduate degree and for a Masters in Education.
He has taught at St. Katharine’s for ten years.
Why do you love teaching fourth graders?
Gavin said fourth grade is his favorite grade to teach. In general, the kids are genuinely caring — about each other and about their schoolwork. They just want to please their teachers and parents, and they feel good when they do a good job.
Feelings amongst the kids naturally get hurt from time to time, he said, but the students always apologize to each other and make up.
What's the biggest challenge that your students face today?
Gavin said he fears for his students’ future because in many cases he says they are helped too much and are not challenged to do their own independent work.
Are teachers expected to not only provide students their class notes but also create an outline of the class notes?, he asked rhetorically.
“They’ve got to develop these things now or we’re going to be in trouble,” Gavin said of critical thinking and organizational skills.
If you could do anything to change education what would it be?
“Get rid of standardized testing,” Gavin said without taking a breath. “I hate standardized tests. I hate labels. I always have.”
“If a child doesn’t do well they could be flagged as special education when maybe they’re not having a good day or they’re bad at taking tests,” he said.
Gavin said when he was in high school he was put in a special education track, and it was hard to work his way out of it.
“We tell [students] they’re important, but we don’t tell the truth about them,” he said of standardized tests.
Tell us something we'd be surprised to learn about your students.
“I’m surprised how well they pick up on things happening in the world and how they process it,” Gavin said. “They know about everything.”
“Their use of technology still surprises me,” he said.
Tell us something that your students would be surprised to learn about you.
This answer was difficult for Gavin because “I tell them everything,” he said. “I’m an open book.”
They know he loves Nascar, all the Philly sports teams and even clothes shopping.
Oh, and he is a reality TV show junkie… “unfortunately,” he said.
What advice would you give a teacher who is just starting out?
“You’ve got to be organized, and you can’t take things personally. I still take things personally, but I’m getting better.”