Celebrating Mr. Brian Smith: Inspiring Students through Dynamic Teaching

Brian Smith teaches APUSH to his students.
Brian Smith teaches APUSH to his students.
Enkhmaa Bilegee

Brian Smith is known not just for his deep knowledge of American history, but for the passion and dedication he brings to his role as an AP U.S. History (APUSH) teacher. His approach to teaching goes beyond the textbook as he strives toward creating an engaging learning and memorable experience for his students.

“It’s the unscripted moments in the day, working with kids, that I like the most,” Smith said, reflecting on his career. His genuine connection with his students makes a lasting impact on their lives. “Some of my most memorable moments come after the fact when I see a former student and they get excited about something I taught them.”

For Smith, teaching is more than just a job. He captivates his students using dynamic teaching, making history come to life in his classrooms. “I feel like teaching is something like a performance art in which you really have to be present and excited about the material yourself,” he said. “Because if you don’t seem excited, the students aren’t going to be excited.”

However, despite his enthusiasm, Smith acknowledges the challenges of keeping students engaged. “As easy as I made it sound, like ‘Oh yeah, to engage students all you have to do is perform,’ still sometimes that’s hard,” he admitted. “Sometimes no matter what you do, there will be some students that aren’t engaged.” It’s important to acknowledge the complexity of teaching and the perseverance that is required to succeed in the profession.

Balancing work and personal life has been another significant learning curve for Smith. “I think my first several years of teaching, I would bring a lot of work home,” he said. “I still do to a degree, but just understanding when it’s time, it’s time is important.” Understanding that balance is crucial for sustaining his effective teaching allowed Smith to separate his life in and outside of State High.

Smith’s dedication to his own professional development is evident in his enthusiasm for learning opportunities. “I really enjoy any kind of conferences that I’ve been to, whether it’s AP conference or some sort of historical association conference, where I myself learn and be a student,” he said. “It is very refreshing and so I think any hands-on conference style type of professional development opportunities are helpful.” Taking on the role of the student himself helped Smith bring a fresh perspective to his lessons.

When asked for practical advice for aspiring educators, Smith offered a blend of practicality and heartfelt wisdom. “Invest in a good pair of shoes. You’re on your feet all day so get comfortable shoes,” he said. But more profoundly, he added, “My more sappy answer to that question would be to never forget the reason why you’re a teacher.”

Smith’s journey as an APUSH teacher provides a testament to the value of dedication and continuous growth. He strives to influence his students by first bettering himself using his commitment to personal and professional development. As he continues to leave a lasting impact on his students, Smith hopes to embody the spirit of teaching full of unlimited opportunities.

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