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Faculty Q&A with History Teacher Raven Koch

Authored By: 
The Beekman School

Raven grew up in rural America, relocating to New York City in her late 20s to bear witness to an energizing art scene.  Identifying as a writer and a multi-media artist herself, she feels very much at the mercy of a voracious sense of curiosity which has led her into a wide variety of educational environments, both formal and informal. With degrees in Linguistics, Acupuncture, and Nursing, Raven kicked off the 2015-2016 school year as a full-time history teacher, marking the start of her sixth year of service to The Beekman School.  She has previously held the positions of Business Manager and Tutor. 

So, you wanted to be a lexicographer?

Yeah. I loved dictionaries and diagramming sentences growing up.  I would pore over dictionaries looking for places to improve it, like spots that should really say, “of or pertaining to,” that kind of thing.  [laughs] I guess I was a pretty arrogant kid.

So why didn’t it happen?

I suppose because life happened instead.  I started working in social services straight out of undergraduate school.  Maybe if I’d gone right into grad school…maybe I should have kept my eyes on the prize.  Oh!  No, then I might not be here now. 

And then?

I wasn’t really sure.  I was living in a small college town on the west coast.  The pace of life was very slow.  I wanted more energy, more ambition from my community.  So I moved to New York. 

What did you do when you got here?

Everything!  No, but seriously, you have to have about five jobs to survive in this city, so I did all kinds of stuff – from cater-waitering to clerical work to working as a temp dancer for a professional dance company to care-giving.  That’s how I discovered this wonderful school, looking for temp work as a tutor. 

How did your first years of tutoring go?

They were great.  I took to it like a duck on water.  I love watching the students grow and learn.  The transformation is incredible.  I cry at every graduation. The classroom is a little more challenging for me. 

How so?

Well, I used to be able to cater every session to each individual student, when I was tutoring.   Now, I have to reach everyone at once.  And because everyone learns differently, it’s more of a challenge. But I like to think I’m figuring it out. 

Have you discovered any advantages to classroom teaching, as compared to the one-to-one tutoring you did in the past?

Absolutely.  It’s great to be able to break the classroom up into groups and have them work together as a team.  It encourages collaboration and cooperation, which are important skills in the contemporary workplace.  And it gives these students the opportunity to collaborate face-to-face through direct verbal communication.  Many of them are comfortable working together digitally, but they really need to develop those in-person skills.  It’s great to watch them learn from each other, too. 

Speaking of digital learning, how is it going with teaching on the iPad this year?  That’s new for you, too, right?

Yes, that is new to me.  Well, what can I say, I like books!  [laughs]  But I like technology too.  There are definitely advantages and disadvantages.  I quite liked some of our textbooks too.  But at the end of the day, I think digital literacy is important, and I’m confident that all our graduating seniors will be fully prepared to utilize basic digital tools in a variety of contexts.  Those skills will serve them well in future academic environments, as well as in the professional sector. 

Well, it sounds like you’re figuring it out, Raven.  Thank you for your time today. 

We are welcoming students to class this spring either via a hybrid in-person/online learning model in NYC (following our Spring Break), or via fully remote, synchronous online classes.  Learn more about our response to COVID-19 >