Teaching Resources

Feature a Teacher

John Babbott, Spanish Teacher, South Brooklyn Community High School

Why did you want to be a teacher ?  I decided to teach for a couple of reasons. I wanted to do something meaningful with young people where I was interacting with human beings and making a difference on some level. The process of "making a difference" has been incredibly hard and mystifying at times, but I think that much of the battle is relearning what making a difference looks like. I think most people have some preconceived notions of what that looks like in a classroom, and the real-life version, for me, has been based more on my personal relationships with students than on subject material, which has surprised me. I also wanted to be a teacher because I love learning and exploring - and discovering how to impart learning and thinking to others has been a great joy.


What is your favorite book? Right now, it's “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. No other contemporary book has blown me away on as many fronts as this one - the honesty, introspection, and humor. I think David Foster Wallace was one of the great geniuses of our time, and I'm so glad that he left behind such a lucid portal into his mind and heart as “Infinite Jest.”


What would you be doing if you were not a teacher? If I wasn't a teacher, I'd be working in international development or freelance writing or both.


What makes your school unique? My school is pretty unique. As a transfer school, South Brooklyn Community High School is all about personal accountability, making life changes, giving students who need it a second chance, and working towards a better future. Building positive relationships with others is great because you really end up teaching the whole person. 


Favorite student quote: "I used to be the kid that failed everything. Now look!"  A student of mine said this after the conclusion of the first trimester this year when he learned that he passed all of his classes and was showing his report card to a friend. Many of our students have historically struggled in school so it’s incredible to see a student body at large working together to make such a huge turnaround in their lives.