New Teachers: Andrew Kollen

I teach World History for 10th graders and I teach 12th grade Government. Irvington is great, I started last year online. Everyone was so welcoming and so kind in the online atmosphere, and coming onto campus, that was just a reminder of how great Irvington is at school, every teacher has been so helpful and welcoming. Interacting with all the students and actually being at our school site has been such a joy compared to online. I’ve really enjoyed being here, in person for the first time and my second year at Irvington. It’s a lot different, I feel like discussions are a lot more authentic, and I feel like lessons are able to logistically work a lot better. We’re able to interact with a lot more people, we’re able to get to know each other on a deeper level, rather than just transactional conversations that we would have on Zoom, which I’ve really appreciated. It just feels a lot more natural and organic when we’re in person compared to being online. 

I love history and the social sciences and I grew up with a family that was really interested in history. We would always take vacations to places where there was a lot of history, for example, Virginia. My grandparents had an antique store, in a small town in Michigan, where I grew up, and I would always help them out in the summer. So I was really interested in history, at least those artifacts of history and learning more about those time periods. That transitioned into a love of history and social sciences. Trying to have different opportunities to work with students was something that I did both in college and after college and something to kind of tie in all of those passions of history and working with students together as well.

My favorite part about teaching is just my interactions with the students each day. I think that’s why it’s been so special to be back on campus, because we’re able to have those conversations of what we’re doing on the weekends, how we spend our evenings. We have our time in class that we’re focused on history but I love that time that we’re able to interact before class, after class, and in passing period as well, just to be able to build a positive relationship. This year I’ve been trying to learn everybody’s names with a mask on, which has been a challenge, but I think I’m 95% there, which is great. I think this year too just trying to continue to have that stamina for teaching and being on my feet all day and interacting with so many different people is very different than sitting at the dining room table and not really moving all day. I think those are some of the challenges at least for this year. 

My funniest memory was literally my first day teaching ever—this was years ago—I had a little pocket on the wall for all phones to go into so that nobody would be on their phones, and I was doing my syllabus, and in the middle of doing all of that, all the phones from the wall completely tumbled down. All my seniors were freaking out, all ran and grabbed their phones, thankfully no damage, but that was the end of having a wall pocket holder. 

Usually, I have my door open, windows open, everybody’s out here, we’re interacting to make sure that we are talking with those that are near us. Sometimes on block days, I like us to get out of our seats and to get moving. I like to have a balance of some lecture notes with some interactive activities, but some individual reading and work time as well. I like to use a variety of different ways to teach history in my class. 

One of my favorite hobbies is checking out different cities throughout the Bay. I love going to different restaurants, trying different cuisines. Lots of cuisines that are my favorite were ones I’ve never experienced before moving out to the Bay. I also really like to read thriller novels. Actually, one thing that I’ve learned during the pandemic is to read a variety of genres, which I never really did before.