Matt Wyman, Shaker Middle School“You can either complain about the world, you can try to change it. Teaching gave me that opportunity.” – Matt Wyman

Matt Wyman worked in the construction field for five years before deciding to go back to school to become a teacher. “I had always been passionate about coaching and teaching so with the support of my wife, I made the leap of faith,” he says. “I felt like I needed to make a bigger difference in the world.” Now in his second year at Shaker Middle School, he may be new to teaching, but he’s bringing a world of experience to his students.

Personal: My wife Hannah and I have two children, Josephine (2) and Tommy (8 months), and a chocolate lab named Baloo.

Main gig: Seventh-grade science teacher

Other duties: I coach middle school football and am co-advisor for Model U.N. club.

Why middle school?

I love these kids! They make me laugh every day. Middle schoolers are at the point in their lives where they are figuring themselves out and deciding on what kind of learner they are going to be. I have the opportunity to help them grow and figure it out. Being around kids who are not only smart, but creative and driven makes me feel very hopeful for the future. Our students are going to change the world.

What’s your secret to connecting with middle schoolers?

You always have to be thinking like a seventh-grader. When planning lessons and activities you have to ask yourself “Would my seventh-grade-self find this interesting or boring?” You have to trust the kid inside.

What do students like about the Shaker Middle School experience?

Students enjoy the sense of community at Shaker Middle School. They know that the teachers and staff care about them and want to see them succeed both in and out of the classroom.

What are the biggest challenges they face? And how can we support them?

Learning how to do things on their own and manage themselves without help from adults. Some kids are great at that and some kids really struggle. We need to put them in situations where they can be independent and have success doing it.

Best part of your job?

The relationships that I have with the staff and students here. They make coming to work each day a fun adventure.

Toughest part of your job?

Many times students are dealing with issues and things that we can’t do anything about and that is really difficult.

For extra credit: Middle School kids say the darndest things.

I asked my students for a time that they made a positive out of a negative situation and one replied, “Last summer I broke my arm, but it was okay because I got Skittles.”

Originally published in Shaker Life, Winter 2018