Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight features awesome educators who are dedicated to teaching and inspiring young people everyday.
In the first edition of the 2017-2018 school year, WoFo features history teacher and blogger Julie Boulton. I would like to thank Julie for her interview and dedication to the teaching profession.
“I love to bring stories to light that might have been forgotten otherwise.”
Besides being a teacher Julie Boulton is….
Wife, mother, sister, hiker, music lover, obsessive coffee drinker, history addict, blogger, traveler and nature lover.
Where do you currently teach, what do you teach and for how long?
I currently teach in Vaughan Ontario. I teach History and Social Science courses, including Law and Politics. I have been teaching for 10 years.
What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?
To be honest, I don’t know if I have one lesson. I love simulations and mock trials. This year I ran my Congress of Vienna Simulation in October, and students were still debating the outcomes with me in May. I love that! I love any activity or lesson that makes the students passionate.
However, I also really enjoy teaching students history that they may not have learned. For example, I never learned about the Nanking Massacre. I was fortunate enough to apply and be selected as an educator for a study trip in China. I visited with government officials, survivors and various historic sites in four different provinces in China for about 3 weeks. I couldn’t believe that the Nanking Massacre had been left out of a lot of World War Two history. Now, I think it has become more well known, and I think it is because it is being discussed more in the classrooms and the media. I love to bring stories to light that might have been forgotten otherwise. I also love to do this as an ongoing lesson in all of my courses. I challenge my students to find ‘what stories are missing’ from our textbooks. We also discuss why certain stories are emphasized whereas others are ignored or forgotten.
Basically, if it is a lesson where my students are thinking, conversing, researching and asking questions than I am a happy teacher!
If, for one day, you were in charge of your school what would you do?
I would devote a day to staff and student wellness/community building. I find the mental health and personal struggles in our schools overwhelming and often overlooked. Our students have so much on their plates that we may or may not be aware of. I really think that our first job as educators is to build relationships with our students and support them. Similarly, I have witnessed teacher burn out, and have definitely felt on the brink myself at times. We can’t expect staff and students to thrive if they are not mentally well and provided with adequate supports.
If you could write one quote on the board for your students what would it be?
A good life is one where at the end of your life you can say that you have given more than you have taken – Ross Plunkett (My Dad)
On your website julieboulton.com , you write about teaching strategies and best practices. How has writing helped you has a teacher?
My blog is very reflective and honest. I strive to outline my experiences and ideas for teaching in the classroom. I also like to point out educators I admire and resources that I find helpful. I am not a perfect teacher, and my blog talks about my successes and my failures. It is very personal, reflective and I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would like to hear as a teacher. I am personally against professional development that begins by negatively talking about teachers and education. I know how hard this job is and how hard most teachers work, so my goal is really to celebrate educators and empower them with tools and resources that have worked for me.
What advice would you give to all new teachers?
Loving your students and trying hard is enough – you’re enough. I had an incredible Mentor tell me one year that if you try one or two new things each year, then you were doing really well. That message stuck with me. Professional development and ministry initiatives can be overwhelming, and sometimes out of touch with the realities of the classroom. I think that it is important for teachers to trust themselves and know that if they are working in the best interest of their students that is enough. If you love your kids and fight for them, than you are 80% there (maybe 90%).
If the best thing about teaching is the students, what’s the second best thing?
Being creative. I love creating a lesson or assignment. I enjoy the creative process, brainstorming, executing it and learning what worked and what didn’t. When you achieve that state of flow in your classroom, it is almost like a runner’s high – you feel so elated as a teacher. I love that feeling!
Who inspires you?
My Aunt Brenda. Unfortunately she passed away in a car crash a couple of years ago, but she was an incredible woman. Google Brenda Zimmerman and you can see what I am talking about. She achieved tremendous professional success, and used it to help others. On top of that, she somehow always managed to make time for and support the people she loved, and she loved to love. She believed in working hard, playing harder and giving back. She rarely criticized others and focused on helping others achieve their dreams. She was one of those rare people who loved to celebrate the success of others. If I could be like anyone, it would be her. Also, my husband, Jeff, he is truly the kindest, most intelligent man that I have ever met. I am so truly thankful for him.
My classroom superpower is… because…
Caring, because I have a reputation for supporting my students and my colleagues. I really believe in relationships first above all else, and I focus on building that before worrying about any content or curriculum expectations.
Connect with Julie on Twitter @JulieBoulton12
And checkout her awesome blog julieboulton.com
If you liked Julie’s interview check out “8 Simple Ways To Be A More Interesting Teacher This School Year”
Do you know an awesome educator dedicated to inspiring and teaching others?
If so, please consider nominating them to be featured on Write on Fight on’s Teacher Spotlight Series. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.