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KCC Faculty on Teaching

KCC Faculty on Teaching

Eric Conte

Q&A with Eric Conte| Education Studies

How did you get into teaching?
From an early age, I always admired my teachers – the way almost all of them created such a warm and welcoming environment, and a space where I could explore and learn new things. I always wondered why most of my teachers (until high school) were women, and thought to myself that more men should get into the field.

What career did you imagine for yourself when you were in college?
Education. Either a guidance counselor or teacher. As a student at Kingsborough, I worked as a college assistant and kept that job for many years, even after graduating. Back when registration took place in person and students had to sometimes wait upwards of 5 hours or more, we also provided guidance with regards to time slots that might work best for the student, or classes they might enjoy. Working alongside students during the registration process, as well as my major in early childhood education, and time out in the field, helped me realize that teaching was indeed the right direction for me to move in.

What do you love about teaching?
I love when I see a student come around full circle. I actually had one of my former fourth-grade students AND a former seventh-grade student take a class with me here at KCC. It's also wonderful to have former students contact me via email, or give a call and tell me that they are now teaching, finished grad school, getting married, etc. I love hearing great news from former KCC students!

What’s your favorite teaching experience?There are so many wonderful experiences that it's hard to name just one. Most recently, two former students came to watch me "Play for Pink," when we played against President Schrader's team. The former students learned of the game through social media and came to show support. I also love when students come up with, and lead amazing initiatives. For example, our NYC Men Teach program on campus has some wonderful programs, and on occasion our students will step up to the plate and not only come up with an amazing idea, but also learn to move forward with it and lead it. If they see something isn't quite right, they won't remain silent, and that is simply amazing!

In what ways do you bring your professional experience into the classroom?
I continually bring with me, and discuss, past classroom experiences. I want my students to know that textbooks and theory can only teach so much, especially when it comes to the field of teaching. Hands-on and field experience are the best ways to learn the craft. My favorite courses to teach are our field classes.

What advice do you have for current students?
Don't always expect things to go "as expected." When they finally get into the field of education, or other closely related fields, it won't always be as mentioned in textbooks – and the solutions suggested might not always work.  Explore, ASK FOR HELP when needed, and always take care of yourself.  Make your mental health one of your priorities, and check in on your students.  Continue to fight for social justice and stay connected to networks such as NYC Men Teach.