Mr. Miles

Mr. Miles teaching a class

Have you ever met a teacher that also trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Well, I got a chance to meet with Mr. Miles, and here’s what he had to say.

Was your initial career choice a teacher? Or was it something else?
It depends on when you want to start. So, when I was a sophomore in high school, I decided that I was going to be an English teacher because I had a really great one. His name is Mr. Van Epps, and now he works for CESA 3. I think you guys got to meet him, Brad, the Book Guy. He was the sophomore English teacher I had and he was also my eighth-grade English and reading teacher too. I would say that drove me to like reading again, too. Because there are those times in middle school where it doesn’t seem like it’s very cool to read, or it’s not very fun, you know.

Mr. Miles explaining the lesson (Aly Jones)

What is your favorite thing about teaching and why?
My favorite thing about teaching is building relationships with kids and having conversations when days are hard. Teaching English is great, but I always think the best moments are; how can I set better goals for myself? And what do I want to accomplish? Not just in this class, because the class is such a small part of what you guys do in your lives.

Do you have a favorite memory from teaching?
When you guys were in seventh grade, we did something called encyclopedia memoirs, and those weren’t my favorite memory necessarily, but my favorite part about that activity was giving them back to you on the first day of eighth grade. It was something that you guys could keep. I think anytime that you can do something that transcends beyond a given year, it just shows a level of caring and enjoyment. It’s funny, the things that you guys brought up just so that you could get something A through Z. [I would] laugh as I was preparing them for you guys as you come back in the fall. That was a good memory for me.

What are some of your career goals for this year?
Let’s narrow it down to three. Some career goals I have, my first one, in particular, is staying more organized than I have in the past. Especially the physical space of the room. I’m trying to be more consistent with, in particular, the books; they can kind of get disorganized. As you can see extra random stacks of papers. That’s my goal to try. It’s not necessarily succeeding yet, but I’m trying to at least once a week clean up for that. Another goal I have is working on student reading fluency. So, in particular, giving you guys chances to read aloud is one thing. I’m trying to make more time for it because as we read, we practice reading and we find that we are struggling with reading certain levels of text. We need more opportunities to practice aloud. The audio is the tool to give you a chance to hear. Then repeat and rehearse what you read.

What is something you do outside of school for fun or a hobby?
So last April, I started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is a grappling sport, some learner wrestling, but it’s a submission-based sport. So I did my first competition. This was at the beginning of September, and I took second, which was pretty cool. So I’ve been doing that to balance what I’m doing with teaching and life outside. I’m training with that, three times a week.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.