Educator Spotlight with Josh Labik
Meet Josh Labik
Elementary Educator at Parkside Elementary School in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania
What grades do you teach and/or what is your title/role? What school, district or institution do you work for? Location?
I am a teacher at Parkside Elementary, currently teaching fifth grade. We are in the Penn-Delco School District located in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania.
Who inspired you to become an educator?
My main source of inspiration was my former teachers, whom I consider role models. I was greatly inspired by my teachers and looked up to them—particularly, my fifth and eighth grade math teachers. They were constantly encouraging students to collaborate and try new learning methods, which ultimately made the learning fun. My goal is to replicate that experience and continue to be a positive role model for my students.
What motivates you?
For me, a major motivator is the ever-changing challenges educators face. I often compare teaching to solving a never-ending Rubik's cube. You solve one side and feel accomplished, but then you realize you still have to solve all the other sides. As each side gets “solved,” new twists and turns continue. Students are often like that. My goal is to constantly help students solve each side of their “learning Rubik’s cube.”
What advice would you give to your first-year-teacher self?
The advice I would give to myself is actually the advice I give to some of my first-year-teaching colleagues, which is to collaborate as much as you can, explore all opportunities available, and ask questions to anyone and everyone! There are so many tools out there in today's world. With the support of technology, there is a vast amount of information out there that you can learn from, adapt, and take into your own teaching practice.
What do you wish more people knew about being an educator?
You are constantly learning and evolving as an educator. The more you learn through research or collaboration, the easier teaching becomes. This job is really rewarding because you are there to assist each student's needs. Each student learns differently, so it is your job to figure out what works best for them. Then, when your students have that “aha” moment, it is such an amazing feeling. Some days are more challenging than others. However, once you find that balance of learning and teaching, this job is SO much fun!
What do you love most about Bridges curriculum / math apps / MLC?
There is so much variety and collaboration within the curriculum. Students are much more motivated to learn with this program and are able to demonstrate higher-level thinking. An example from our current unit is that students are weighing and plotting the decomposition rate of two different carrots. Each day they come in excited to talk with others, share their estimations, and see what the weight is each day. The Bridges curriculum constantly has my students interested, engaged, and connecting lessons to everyday life.
What do you love most about working with students?
I love learning how my students approach and solve problems. I am amazed that I have students each year that have different methods or approaches that work specifically for them. In the end, we all learn differently, so I really enjoy learning about others' thought processes.
What’s your math story? In other words, how do you feel about math and why?
Math has just been relatively easy for me. At an early age, I was able to grasp the material quickly and, thankfully, was blessed with some spectacular math teachers. I personally believe that math is so important to learn because it teaches you to use logical reasoning, the skills are usable in a number of ordinary ways, and it is an important pillar of our growth as a society.