With school just getting underway, Patch will be introducing readers to some of Fair Lawn School District's reigning "Teachers of the Year," as well as district educators who are moving into new roles in the district or who are simply new to the district.
Each has been kind enough to answer a few questions we've posed to them about their teaching philosophy and what has informed their approach over the years.
Janean Marxen, 30, is a health and physical education teacher at and its 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year. She grew up in West Milford and now lives in Ogdensburg with her husband, Jesse, and their dog, Rocky.
Janean graduated Magna Cum Laude from William Paterson University in 2006, with a bachelor's in Physical Education and Health. She's currently working toward her master's in Technology and Leadership, and will graduate in May 2013.
This is Janean's seventh year teaching in the Fair Lawn School District. She also worked for six month in New Providence Middle School/High School as a long-term sub.
Janean has been the co-director of the Drama Club for two years, co-director for the PALS program -- a program to help sixth graders adjust to middle school life -- for four years and co-director of the Upstanders Club, along with Robyn Levine.
Did you always want to be a teacher? What is it about the job that
attracted you to the profession?
I did not originally want to be a teacher. I wanted to be many things. First it was a singer, until I realized i had no talent. Then it was a social worker, then a zoologist and then a teacher. I was attracted to being a teacher because in my profession (PE/Health) I would get to do what I love - play all day and have fun. I wanted to just be able to be myself and teach others about how fun it can be to be active.
What's your favorite part of being a teacher?
I love talking and interacting with the students. They have so many fun things to say. It keeps me young and up-to-date with the world. I am also constantly learning, myself, which is another great aspect of being a teacher.
How would you describe your approach to teaching and how has it evolved over the years?
My approach to teaching is to have fun, be true to myself and let the students see a real person. I am not in the business to be a totalitarian. If students can relate with you, they are more likely to respect you. It has not really changed over the years, I have always felt that way. However, from year to year I try to work on something new about myself. For example, this year, I am trying to not be as argumentative and not take things so personally.
What has been your biggest challenge in the classroom?
My biggest challenge in teaching has always been discipline. I rarely think that something is "that bad" to get a detention or some sort of consequence. I want to give kids a second chance. However, that tends to back fire.
What's the most valuable advice you've received as it relates to
teaching? What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from teaching?
You can not please everyone. Do what you feel is best and be confident with your choices. Always be yourself.
What techniques have you found most effective for teaching and engaging students? Have you tried anything unique in the classroom that you feel has been especially effective?
Make it relatable to them, interactive, and not consistent (makes them wonder what's next).
What's been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
Whenever I see students that have left the school and come back and say how much they enjoyed the class or appreciated that I was there for them.
What's new with you, if anything, going into this school year -- both
personally and professionally?
I want to run a marathon by spring - Long Branch, NJ. I ran the half marathon this year. I would also like to start some sort of community event in the spring.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of teaching?
Running, hiking, pretty much all sports, stamping (decorating cards, scrapbooks, etc.).
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
Most people would be surprised that I worry a lot about what others think of me. I get upset when I think others don't like me or are unhappy with me.