Grade 5 and 6 Humanities Educator Devin L. James shares an experience teaching with Wit & Wisdom® that many can identify with. While his first year of implementation had its difficulties, over time he discovered the value and benefit of the productive struggle and challenge that the curriculum presents to students and teachers alike. “As I struggled through, I learned to appreciate the rigor and research that drives the curriculum,” said James.
Now in his fourth year of teaching Wit & Wisdom, James sees the positive effects of the curriculum on his students and his fellow educators. As a Center City Public Charter School mentor teacher in Washington, D.C., James both teaches the curriculum to students and trains colleagues and first year teachers. To further develop his skills, James also joined the Great Minds team as a 2021 Wit & Wisdom Fellow. Read on to learn more about his teaching career, his experiences as a fellow, and his advice for educators interested in applying for the program.
You’ve been an educator for 6 years. What inspired you to pursue a career in education and what keeps you motivated to continue teaching?
I have been teaching in the K–12 setting for 6 years, and I have worked in adult learning and education for 3 years. I come from a family of educators, including family members who were teachers, counselors, dean of students, program managers, and school administrators. So naturally, I have seen the beauty and value of education in both early learning and institutions of higher education. I also was inspired by the need I saw in the educational system. Specifically, I saw a need for black male educators and teachers of color. I believe there is a need for students of color to positively see themselves in what they are learning, what they are reading, and who is disseminating information.
What initially drew you to the Wit & Wisdom Fellowship Program?
I attended a Launch training in New Orleans, and I was intrigued by the presenter’s ability to lead and train teachers. This fellowship gives me an opportunity to engage with many brilliant thinkers while also challenging colleagues and showcasing how Wit & Wisdom provides and encourages a growth mindset.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a Wit & Wisdom fellow?
It has been super rewarding to meet so many educators from around the world. It has also been rewarding to participate in various conferences and networking events, and to meet many authors and school leaders through this fellowship.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in applying for the Fellowship Program?
I would encourage anyone who is interested in applying for this fellowship to first be passionate about teaching and learning. I would also encourage anyone to be open—the content of Wit & Wisdom can challenge one to grow and rethink one’s teaching practices.
To learn more about the Wit & Wisdom Fellowship Program and to apply to join this passionate community of educators, visit the fellowship program website here.
Devin L. James is a passionate educator who promotes cultural responsive teaching, instructional coaching, and professional development. Devin is a Humanities teacher at Center City Public Charter School in Washington, DC, and also serves as a national fellow and professional development facilitator for Great Minds, where he and a team of brilliant educators train teachers on researched based practices that support student success. Prior to joining the team at Center City, Devin was a 7th grade teacher and instructional leader with Baltimore City Public Schools.
Topics: Professional Development