The last year represented a whirl wind of change for Ott, who had taught the last thirteen years at Northwestern Middle School in Milton, GA. After his wife accepted a promotion at the end of July, he only had two weeks to land a new job before school would start in Houston Texas.
The Friday before classes started, Ott pulled a U-Haul up to Spring Oaks Middle School in the Spring Branch Independent School District and set up his new 8th grade language arts classroom.
His new Title I home has presented a new set of challenges for Ott. "I feel fortunate to have landed in such a supportive school. I feel like I'm learning as much from my kid as they are learning from me."
Ott and his team have redesigned their classrooms this year to implement the "Workshop" model of instruction in an effort to prepare their students to become more independent, goal driven learners. Even though he is now teaching in a new school and a new environment, Ott brings the same high expectations he had with his previous students in GA and some of his old habits.
Before sending each class home for the summer, Ott asks students to write themselves a letter about how they envision the the lives they will have built for themselves by the time they reach their senior year in highschool. The week before these students begin their senior year in high school, those letters find their way back to their mailboxes, and those seniors get a message from the long lost 8th Grader they used to be. One of Ott's greatest enjoyments is hearing from former students who just had to tell him about the experience of receiving that letter.
Change may not be comfortable, but it sure sharpens your skills and serves as a reminder of why you pursued this career in the first place.
1990 University of Florida, B.A.