Interview with Doug Hoover

Hey Everyone!  Welcome to my first ever attempt at an interview.  I chose one of my favorite teaching peers of all time to interview, Doug Hoover.  We worked together for three years at Horizon Science Academy Denison Elementary.  The interview was conducted over several days via a Google Doc.  I shared with him the initial questions and he answered them and then I followed up with some more questions to try to give it the feel of a face to face interview even though it was conducted entirely online.  Hope you enjoy getting some insight into the life of another teacher.  If you have any suggestions for questions to ask in future interviews, please leave them in the comments section or via the contact page.  Thanks for reading!

Erik – So, can you start by just giving us a history of your teaching career?

Doug – I am in my 9th year of teaching P.E.! My first 3 years of teaching, I was part-time at two different private elementary schools located on the opposite sides of Parma, Ohio. The next 3 years of teaching I was at a Charter school in Cleveland, Ohio (Horizon Science Academy…with you!). The past 3 years, I have been teaching Elementary P.E. in Lorain City Schools. This is just my official PE teaching. I have been doing summer camps/sports camps for probably close to 12 years.

Erik – So all nine years teaching at the elementary level.  Do you ever envision moving to middle or high school?  Is that something you think you would like to do at some point?

Doug – I’m not sure to be honest…if I HAD to, I definitely would, but I really enjoy the elementary level kids. Most of them are excitable and want to be there. I could see myself being a lifer at the elementary level.

Erik – What led you to be a teacher in the first place?

Doug – I enjoyed being around kids and wanting to help them make good decisions. I liked being able to teach them how to do things. Not saying that I am good at all those things by any means, but I am more skilled than a young child so I feel like I could do some good! Going through school, I enjoyed PE and being able to get my energy out and learn how to do cool things (and ride on scooters and play with the parachute of course). I had pretty good relationships with the teachers I had and liked most of them… I will admit, that most of the time, I was that kid trying to do the right thing and be helpful whenever I could. If I could help leave this world a more positive place because I was able to influence some kids in a good way, than I wanted to do it.

Erik – Have you ever thought about leaving teaching for another vocation?

Doug – There are bits and pieces of me that every once in a while pop up and think about, what if I had gone into a trade or some more construction. I do enjoy the work, but I don’t think it would ever be enough to leave teaching. I work in the summers as a director of a summer camp and if I were to change anything, I would test the water in the summer with something different. I do really like working at the summer camp too though.

Erik – Does it bother you when people call it “Gym Class” and not “Physical Education”?

I’m kind of split…to me, it all depends on the demeanor of the person saying it, and honestly, the age. If it is an older person/teacher, to them, it was “Gym class” and I guess old habits are hard to break. When someone calls it “Gym Class” in a bad way, like it’s just recess, or they think that I just supervise kids playing dodgeball…yes, it does bother me. I have learned to thank and emphasize when teachers and students refer to it as PE, and subtly correct those who call it “Gym.” For example, if a teacher says (and I am around to hear it) “When you’re done with gym, I want to hear a good report.” I would say something (to the kids when the teacher can hear it) like “After PE, I hope that I can give your teacher a good report.” I obviously always use the term PE, or Physical Education/Phys, Ed. but I do not flip out on people when they say “gym class.” It does bother me when PE teachers call it “gym class” though. Have some respect for your own professions. Although, I do believe that the final wave of PE teachers that just roll out the ball, will soon be all the way out the door.

Erik – As a fellow bald man, I catch a lot of flack from kids about my hairline.  Do you get the same?  Does it bother you?

Doug – Initially, I did get some flack, but that was right at the end of college/graduation. I quickly learned to embrace it and I just keep my hair buzzed. It’s second nature now and I am fully willing to put my baldness out there. I make fun of myself for it or when my hair gets a little long, the kids start to notice and they ask why I keep it short all the time. I bend over a little bit and show them the horseshoe pattern on my head and say my hair is thin and non-existent. The soon realize it. Recently over Christmas break, I decided to not shave. I’m personally still undecided on it, but the kids at school are pretty split. I think that the one’s that like it, or say they like it are just being nice. Then there are those kids that almost every day say… “You need to shave. That looks bad.

Erik – I’ve always said that if you want an honest unadulterated opinion of yourself, ask a first grader. Have you ever been seriously offended by something a student said to you?

Doug – Not that I can remember. If a kid insults me or my class, or the school. I know they are just upset about something and don’t know how to truly express it other than by throwing out insults. I usually just ignore it or shrug it off.

Erik – What are some of the best memories you have of teaching?

Doug – Throughout the years, there have been a lot of kids that have impacted my life through teachable moments. Along with that, there have been several events and moments during class that will forever be engraved in my mind. The culture shock of the first few classes of teaching some kids and seeing their behaviors and saying “I gotta use it”…knowing what they meant, I would say…”Use what?!” Eventually, after them saying “IT!” over and over again, I kindly correct them, using correct grammar. Most of the students got it quickly because I wouldn’t let them go if they didn’t ask correctly. Making up handshakes with kids, building relationships with them and joking around with them was really awesome. Knowing that I could see a kid in the hallway and connect with them and help them figure out why they were in trouble and work with them to make better choices was great. Specifically, there was a crazy time that I won’t forget…It wasn’t a best memory, but one that will last. It was the 2nd week of school during my first year at Horizon Science Academy. And for those of you that aren’t aware, the Gym was in a separate building in the lower level…it was big which was great, but it had that musty dungeon type feel to it. We were playing a game where students were working on locomotor skills with music and quickly and quietly finding a hula hoop to go in, or share with a partner, when I stopped the music. 2nd round of playing (Kindergarten I believe…maybe 1st grade), there was a student named Ivrionna. She took of sprinting for a green hula hoop and there was a student standing looking for a hula hoop. Ivrionna saw him and dodged him, but did not see a second student running in a perpendicular path and WHAMMM! She immediately goes down screaming! I knew it was bad, but as always, you have to keep your cool. I went over to her and asked her where she was hurt and she looked up to me holding her hand under her mouth which was full of blood and her upper lip was split wide open and blood was pouring out! I immediately ran to the old kitchen that was connected to the gym where I kept my gloves, etc and ran with paper towels back to her. God bless the kids in the class at the time, because they all stayed away and were calm because they knew I had to handle the bloody mess. I had her hold the paper towel on her lip and I called over to the school to send someone over to get her. A couple minutes passed and no one came, so I sent her with a trusted student to the office. I stayed on the phone with the secretary who was watching them come from the gym to the office until she told me they were with her. It was a crazy moment, but one that I won’t forget! Not sure if that was the kind of “best memory” you were looking for, but for the more traditional “best memory” I would say that there were several of those “Yes, I got it!” moments with kids working on certain skills that would get overly frustrated, but were determined to get it. I even worked with some of them during my lunch to give them extra time because they didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of their classmates. It is pure joy when a student achieves something they didn’t even believe they could do themselves. I have a 4th grade student whom is reserved and timid, English is their second language and they are not very coordinated. It was actually this week that we were working with long jump ropes and jumping in while the rope was spinning. I could tell this student was never going to try it on her own. I watched to see what her groupmates were doing, and they tried encouraging her, but she kept standing quietly away from her group. I came along side of her and said to her, “Pretty scary, huh?” She nodded her head and I assured her that I would come along side of her and help her time it up and I would pat her on the back when it was time to follow the jump rope in and then jump. She hesitantly agreed and God Bless the kids in the group who were so patient with her. The kids started spinning the rope nice and slow and really big so she had a huge window of opportunity. I stood next to her…”1…2…3…Go!” I gave her that pat on the back and she trustingly went for it, and she nailed it! She ran in and jumped over the jump rope twice and was elated! The biggest smile I have ever seen on this girl and her group mates immediately came over and congratulated her…made my day!

Erik – I remember Ivrionna!  She was a kindergartener in Mrs. Turner’s class I believe.  Tiny little girl with a big voice. Do moments like that make it all worth it for you?  Is it hard to get through the stress of the day to day to make it to those times?

Doug – Moments like that do make the more stressful moments worth it. Although, you never know when those moments may come. Sometimes, it takes a while and it gets rough. My family is truly what makes everything worth it. Knowing that I’m providing for my family enables me to really put up with anything.

Erik – What do you do aside from teaching?

Doug – I am a husband of almost 9 years to an amazing wife and mother, and I am a father of two incredible boys (3 &1/2, and 11 months). I have a long commute to work, so during the school year, I pretty much come home and play with my boys then hang out with my bride then go to bed. During breaks or on weekends, I am an occasional runner, and I enjoy working with my hands. Not saying I’m great, but I like to do woodworking and help family members with projects or building things. That takes up most of my time, and I love it. I will also throw out there that I do enjoy spending time with my friends. I don’t keep in contact with friends from High School, but I made the best friends of my life during college (and a couple throughout my working career). I put a strong emphasis on being intentional with those relationships whether it’s through text or phone calls. It’s one of those situations where you haven’t hung out for a long time but never missed a beat sort of thing.

Thank you for interviewing me and including me in your new endeavor!