Tell us a bit about your background:
My name is Aaron Shelby and I was born and raised in Kansas City, MO. I earned my BA from the University of Texas-Austin and MAT from Tufts University. I taught for a number of years in Boston and NYC public schools at the high school level before moving to Kuwait to teach and serve as an Instructional Coach at BBS. The coaching position allows me to work with teachers grades 6-12 in the ELA, SS, and Arts departments to help improve student achievement.
Tell us one moment from your teaching experience that was particularly powerful, interesting, or funny.
I worked with an advisory program of about 20 ninth grade young men of color to document their life stories with the help of the non-profit organization StoryCorps. Their mission is to “preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.” So I set out to help these 14 and 15 year olds to grasp the importance of this year long project. We listened to recorded stories, interviewed our facilitators, and even flew my mother in to interview, but, to me, nothing appeared to be getting these students motivated to record their own stories. When it came time to present our work at the end of the year I was shocked to see the work they produced. Their levels of questioning and innate understanding of the world around them brought tears to my eyes because I realized at that moment that they got it. They knew their story is as important and powerful as the next person and it had to be told. So for all of my pushing and prodding throughout the year to get them to do the work, they did the work exceeding expectations. This was the point that I truly understood that learning takes on many forms and looks like many different things, but the end result and feeling is still the same. The students finished the year on a personal high and carried this understanding with them through graduation.
Do you have any inspirational words and/or specific sites, organizations, strategies, or links that you’d like to share with other teachers?
To find out more about StoryCorps and how you can record your own story, check them out at https://storycorps.org/
“[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” -Jim Henson