After much anticipation, we are proud to announce Mr. Bryan Taylor will be joining us as our Math and Science Subject Expert Teacher (SET) for grades 2 and 3. In these grades, students will travel as a cohort to each course led by a different SET, one of which will be Math and Science.
Mr. Taylor brings a unique and comprehensive background for his subjects to the classroom and he is eager to bring them to life for his students.
Read more of our intriguing conversation with Mr. Taylor in the Q&A below!
What excites you about being a founding teacher and joining a BASIS Independent school?
The thing that excites me the most about this opportunity is that I am joining the school as it establishes its culture and community. It will be an exciting chance for me to have an influence on this and take part in establishing routines and traditions.
I also find the teaching style that is offered at BASIS Independent Bellevue interesting because it allows me to focus on the content area where my passions lie. It is easier to inspire students about a subject when it is a subject that you are passionate about. Math and science are what excite me, and being able to teach students these subjects is what gets me up out of bed every morning!
Give us a little of your background so our families can get more acquainted with you.
I am a graduate of the University of Washington and majored in Earth and Space Sciences with a minor in Paleobiology. I originally went to school for paleontology, but after doing field work in Montana for several summers, I discovered it was not my true calling and I began to focus more on the geology aspect. After college, I held a position as an afterschool teacher at Bellevue Children’s Academy. Prior to this, I had conducted tutoring for elementary students for a sociology course that I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked it so much I continued to do it past the requirements for the class. As the afterschool teacher, I brought my love of dinosaurs and paleontology to the program because so many of the kids were interested in the subject.
I started my teaching career at Bellevue Children’s Academy as a PreK teacher for two years, then moved onto grade 1 for a year, and have most recently taught grade 2, where I was the Math and STEM lead for the past six years. I recently went back to graduate school and have completed my master’s degree teaching from the University of Washington.
Where does your passion for math and science come from and what do you enjoy the most about teaching these subjects?
Unsurprisingly, my love for science sprouted from dinosaurs! I have always loved learning about animals, and had a curiosity and interest to learn more. This was my initial step into researching things for the thrill of learning. As a child, I can remember the excitement of learning something new and sharing with my parents. In a way, this was my first step into teaching, this sharing of information. Now it is my job to continue sharing what I have learned in math and science! One reason I enjoy teaching is because every day brings something new, different, and interesting to discuss with students. Every question I answer as a teacher brings up five more questions from my students and I appreciate being this one to guide them.
When it comes to math, I have always viewed it as a puzzle—I loved learning to view the equation from different perspectives, which is why I enjoy teaching math. I find that many students by grade 2 have put a label on themselves as a “good or bad” math student, and it is a rewarding experience watching students overcome these labels by rising to the challenges.
I aim to share at least one piece of information that students can take home and share with parents. It is important that I provide those moments to students, where they can shine the spotlight on themselves and share the interesting things they learn with the people they care about. Doing this kindles the fire of curiosity and spreads the desire to learn more.
In the grades 2 and 3, math and science are taught together in daily 85-minute blocks. How will you bring these disciplines to life and what is the importance of combining them?
Math and science are one of the most natural connections across disciplines. I often describe math as the alphabet you need to learn before engaging in science. In order to test scientific hypotheses, you need to understand the language of math. Additionally, science is one of the best ways to show how applicable math is in life.
I want to make math interesting and put a spotlight on how valuable a tool it is. In class, I will often take an abstract idea and bring it to life through student interests and real-world application. Once they understand math equations and how they can be applied to various concepts, we will then hone in on how those relate to scientific concepts. For example, if students are learning about graphs in math, they can then create a graph related to a scientific topic to showcase learning. Part of conducting experiments is about gathering data to evaluate different variables and is a great way to apply real world application.
What skills will you focus on building?
Besides the core mathematic and scientific concepts, I will work to develop transferable skills such as self-confidence and independence. I do not want my students to be intimidated by challenges, but rather to see them as an opportunity to use the skills they have developed and adapt to overcome obstacles. Math can be challenging as they develop this mindset to persevere when things get tough, but it will further their self-confidence and independence. I will also encourage student’s curiosity and intrinsic desire to know more.
What is your goal for each student?
My general goals for each student are to eliminate the tendency to label themselves as good or bad at a discipline. I will work to create strong foundational skills that will allow students to be confident mathematicians and scientists.
Can you tell us about your past experience hosting afterschool clubs/activities?
In the past, I have hosted a variety of afterschool clubs and activities. I led a science club where we met once a week and explored a variety of experiments that could be done with items found within a household. For example, we tested placing Mentos in a variety of liquids to find which liquid creates an eruption.
I have also hosted several test prep clubs, one specifically for the SAT for a wide range of ages. The goal of test prep clubs is getting students used to standardized testing and to give them the opportunity to take tests in a low stress environment to better prepare them for the real thing.
The most successful and popular club I have hosted is a Pokémon game theory and strategy club. I enjoyed leading this club because it was rewarding to establish team culture and see students overcome competition because they were not afraid to lose. It was extraordinary to see the comradery evolve both inside and outside of school.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy taking my dog to the dog park, hiking, camping, and fishing. When the weather does not cooperate, I like to do home improvements. Most recently I have built a table and created my outdoor patio. I also enjoy doing a bit of airbrush art.
BASIS Independent Bellevue is a private school opening fall 2022. We will open with Grades 2 - 7 to start and add a grade level each school year as we expand to a full middle and high school (Grades 5 - 12).
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