Misfit Educator: Mallory Gregory is an empathetic leader committed to students
A q & a with Mallory and her students, a group of FYG curriculum users.
Subject: Family and Consumer Science
Grade Level: High School
School Type: Public High School
School Name: Waverly High, Nebraska
# of years teaching: 10+ years
Down the table, Mallory Gregory gave us an introduction and opportunity for each of her students to explain their purpose in attending the National FCCLA conference, a multiple day gathering of youth leaders to explore careers, colleges, etc. They each proudly and openly stated their reasonings, talking equally as passionate about Mrs. Gregory as they were about their futures. But after each student, Mallory additionally chimed in about a student’s project, passion, or what they’re good at. She spoke with such intention and passion, a tone expressing the energy and exchange that was exclusively between these students and teacher. A soothing hype woman. A true supporter. And most importantly, an empathetic leader. Some teachers believe their authority trumps over the classroom, missing the opportunity that a teacher still can learn from their students. But what you witness with Mallory is the empathy displayed and the time she invests in each student, which make you admire the connection she has built. Within a dinner, I realized that Mallory is a misfit educator who invites kindness and inspiration to go beyond the lesson plans to create a lasting impact with her students.
Read more about Mallory Gregory, one of the educators in the inaugural class of Find Your Grind ambassadors, a group of FYG Curriculum users who help shape the future of FYG offerings.
FIND YOUR GRIND: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOUR TEACHING STYLE IS: PERSONAL, ACADEMIC, INSPIRATIONAL?
Mallory: Can I say all? I think starting point for me is the relational piece of it because without that nothing else matters. You have to have the buy in — the relationship with the kids to make it connect with them. And then, absolutely the inspirational piece goes right along with that to try to find ways to stay connected. And then academic, too — to support the content that you’re wanting them to learn. But, without the first two it doesn’t matter what your content is.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET IN ABLE TO MAKING THESE CONNECTIONS WITH YOUR STUDENTS?
Not a secret. For me I think it’s empathy. Truly seeking to understand the kids because it can get really easy to put a stereotype on them. I think it’s the time to get to know them. Each kid. Because once you do that, you just learn their stories, their backstory, and then you find those connections. It’s not a secret, but I think it’s getting to know them and also networking with other adults or kids that are important to them. So then you get to see the whole picture of who they are, so it’s not just your view on them in the classroom — seeing that whole picture. And then from there you have to be optimistic with whoever you’re with, so finding what’s right with them.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO IMPLEMENT SELF DISCOVERY IN YOUR CONTENT PLAN?
Regardless of your content and what you’re teaching, I feel that if a student doesn’t take time to learn who they are, that internal motivation for them to learn and to seek that intellectual curiosity… they have to know who they are as a person. So an example, in my Relationships class, the first probably 5 years of teaching it I went straight into the healthy versus unhealthy relationships and then I switched over to now we spend about 9 weeks (half of the class) on self discovery. Because once you do that, then when you start teaching your content, they’re making those deeper connections with it. They’re making the personal connections with it, versus being just the content you’re teaching them. It’s foundational, I feel. And it’s not just a one time shot. It has to be continually revisited as they go through their entire lives — not just high school, middle school, or elementary. Because that person changes as they go through. Even an adult. The stuff that Find Your Grind develops is so fun to teach, because you revisit that even as a person, too.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT FIND YOUR GRIND?
I think just that whole focus of the lifestyle, the self, who you are, and then opening those opportunities versus being it a one path. There’s also an emphasis on mentorship. Without that, not as many doors open for you. And kids understand, and exposing them to that I think is really important.
IF YOU CAN PASS ON ANY WISDOM FOR TEACHERS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Being fearless — always being willing to try. To not get stuck in a rut but always being fearless to try and to never getting burnt out. And the moment that you feel that passion being lost, ask why you’re there. Every teacher goes into teaching because they love kids, I truly believe that. But to always revisit that and make sure that’s the focus of what you do. And being fearless to try. Finding things to fit your teaching style and who you are in your content, and then trying to implement it to continually grow.