Back to School – An Interview with Kari Kokka

February 19th, 2010 by Katie Koch | Filed under Discovery, Interviews, Resources.

Kari Kokka

Kari is a math teacher at Vanguard High School here in New York. When I first told her about our project she was super excited and eager to find out more.

When we told her about our plans, Kari confirmed that an after school program is one of the best ways to get access to interested students. Because it’s voluntary, the kids will be there because they want to be. Her school is pretty open to new and progressive courses, as evidenced by the well-received¬†Capoeira class Kari recently led.

Since she’s been teaching for about nine years, Kari had plenty of good advice for sustaining kids’ enthusiasm during a class. She suggests that we plan, and since we are new to teaching, we should OVER plan. She says even if you think you have enough things to do, you’ll probably get there and realize you haven’t planned nearly enough activities.

Kari also suggested that we offer a field trip in addition to on-site curriculum. She thinks it would be valuable for kids to come and see what a real design studio looks like to get a better introduction to the discipline of design.

Most importantly, Kari recommended that we come visit a classroom. We’ve talked about visiting a class so we can do real observation of how kids participate and learn, and this will be a great opportunity for us to do that. Some of us are going to go to high school in a couple weeks and sit in on an art class, a robotics class and an advisory class, where we will be able to talk to some of the students and get a better idea of who our “user” is. I haven’t been in high school in many years so I can’t wait!!

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