Episode 1: An introduction to an unconventional teacher

This first episode of An Unconventional Teacher, An Introduction, we meet the founder and host of this project, Jon Hinthorne. In this short episode, Jon explores three key details about his first few years of becoming an unconventional teacher. Jon describes a few pivotal moments for him as a young educator that helped him develop the courage to be unapologetically different from his other World Language colleagues.   

Jon and his wife, Jenny, are both educators and live with his two young boys, Mason and Jacob, in Arroyo Grande, CA. They spend as much time out at parks, going for walks, and enjoying the central coast of California’s beautiful beaches. Jon also writes and produces original solo piano music. His music is on iTunes and Spotify under his name, Jon Hinthorne. You can find more about Jon’s music at his website.  

Episode 1 – Transcription

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript was done by AI and may contain punctuation or typographical errors.

00:00:04 Hello and welcome to our podcast an unconventional teacher. I’m your host Jon Hinthorne. This podcast explores the unconventional methods that make our classrooms and teachers great. We hope to uncover why it is that the unconventional ways of yesterday are now becoming the conventional ways of today now, let’s begin.

00:00:22  Each week, we will explore a different topic related to taking risks and daring to be different for the sake of our students. We hope to uncover why it is that the unconventional ways of yesterday have now possibly become the conventional ways of today.

00:00:42  Now let’s begin.

00:00:58  Episode 1 an introduction to an unconventional teacher. Okay, Welcome to our first episode where I’m going to attempt to share a few elements of my own experience that matter to this podcast theme of being unapologetically different from those around me AKA unconventional.

00:01:22  Let’s start with how I became a teacher.

00:01:25  I did not go and get an education degree. I actually never substituted in a single Schoolhouse. Never been in a classroom and held the reins with behavior management writing lesson plans.

00:01:39  But when I was 22, I applied for and got a position at a private school in St. Louis, Missouri my private school I went to and I took the reins and the keys of one of the most beloved teachers that the school had ever known in my corner room with chalkboards and dusty walls. I enter on my first day and write a respectful letter in Spanish on the chalkboards. I situate my desks that were in a rigid line in a circle and from then on I imagined my classroom as a conversation a safe place for my students could take risks.


00:02:27  I talked to them about how I had one rule that they respect themselves and the classroom still to this day. That is my single rule with no experience of my administrator having faced with me the two people that planted the idea of teaching because that wasn’t my idea even two weeks before graduating college. Everyone had faith that this was going to work out. So I rode the wave I jumped on that train I got on that bus and did my best two years later. I had completed my first two years of teaching and two of my favorite people came to me and in different conversations said have you thought about national service?

00:03:17  I said hey, I’m on an unconventional road to being an educator. Let me look into it. They gave me the name of an organization called City year, you can find them at cityyear.org because they harness the power of young people in our nation’s schools and communities that are usually needing a bit more support, love and resources. So I move myself unconventionally because couldn’t I have sat in that room with that job at that private school for the rest of my career. Absolutely. But instead I packed my bags and moved out to Boston and it was that moment that was the City Year that things changed. I got to see that everyone has a full and unbridled potential every single young person is incredible.

00:04:36  The second thing I wanted to share with you all in this introduction episode is related to a moment. I was with a parent of a potential student right before my first year of teaching. We were outside a beautiful St. Louis afternoon, and we were having ice cream with the parents, the teachers and the students of all of our freshman class.

00:05:00  The families were intermingling with each other and students hadn’t seen each other after the summer. You can picture how wonderful this time was. I was nervous. I was by myself the new teacher there, only a few of us in this small community.

00:05:18  What did I know about teaching? I kept on asking myself and then it happened.


00:05:25  Parents came up to me, looked at me and said congratulations on your new job. Are you excited? I said absolutely excited not telling him how terrified I was. I had no experience even substituting in a classroom. Let alone any education classes and had never written a lesson plan, but nonetheless. I was passionate about young people passionate about teaching Spanish and speaking Spanish.


00:05:54  Enough that they gave me the job. So this guy says the most heart-wrenching comment right after he looks at me and says, I think you’re going to be my son Spanish teacher. What do you know about teaching?

00:06:11  My heart sank.

00:06:14  I told him, you know, I don’t know much about teaching per say cuz I had to be honest, but I do love people.

00:06:25  And I want to share that love with your son.

00:06:29  It was at that moment that I realized why I was there, why I had keys to a classroom and why somebody believed in me to be a teacher?

00:06:41  I wasn’t there to teach them Spanish. I was there to love them and share that love in a community of Learners now is hunky-dory and Kumbaya as that sounds it’s real and I think it’s one of the things that makes me an unconventional teacher.

00:07:00  Since then I’ve stopped to see all my students to hear them to ask them how they’re doing and actually stopped to hear the answer.

00:07:12  I asked them all the time for feedback in my classroom because my students are the reason that I’m there. I think that our students are our clients if we’re not asking them for feedback. We’re not asking them how things are going. We’re not asking them legitimately how their day is going and when it’s not going well stopping to say I’m here and I can listen to you. We’re not doing our job.

00:07:40  now the last thing I want to share with you is what my dad told me it’s short and I want to share with you because it’s at the heart of why I teach

00:07:50  it has to do with this idea that it takes 10 years.

00:07:54  For you to become a master teacher now. I’m not sure if that’s an arbitrary year or where my dad got it. He cites Japanese teaching tradition still to this day. I haven’t been able to find exactly what he’s talking about. But nonetheless the sentiment is there 10 years 10 years to fall in your face and learn from it to have a little wind and big wins to experience the Myriad of behaviors that you’re going to experience with middle schoolers and high schoolers has those have been the ages that I’ve worked with.

00:08:31  And I have to tell you he’s been right now. I’m not calling myself a master teacher.

00:08:37  For the sake of patting myself on the back, but this is an introduction to me and I want to let you know that last year my peers voted for me to receive the teacher of the year for our site.

00:08:52  Again, my stomach crumbled. What did I do? I ask myself to deserve this. I pointed it out to five other Educators on campus that were more deserving of this award than me. There’s no way that I realized and remember what my dad said after 10 years.

00:09:16  You will have gotten to a point in education where things are not easy, but you’re going to stop seeing and hearing new things as much as you did in your early years.

00:09:28  Now we hope you enjoyed this introduction episode. It’s not everything about me. But again, this is not a podcast about me. This podcast is going to feature teachers and Educators and parents that are doing some remarkable work to set their classrooms and their homes and their ways different from other people. This podcast is aiming to pay it forward for me to share with some of you all the things that I’ve learned along the way and continue to learn about this incredibly difficult yet rewarding position.

00:10:03  This gives this responsibility of being a teacher and having our nation’s young people with us for hours upon hours every week.

00:10:27  Thank you so much for listening to this episode of an unconventional teacher. We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed producing it. This is a project to pay it forward to the teachers and Educators out there seeking something different. If you are or have someone in your world that is an unconventional teacher, please send their name to an unconventional teacher at gmail.com and we can work to get them on this show.

00:16:43 Also, please join us on Instagram and Twitter at an unconventional teacher and be a part of our growing movement to embrace the different as I tell each and every one of my classes I teach at the end of our time together “Vive como si fuera su último día” (live like it were your last day). Have a great day and we’ll see you next time.

2 comments on “Episode 1: An introduction to an unconventional teacher

  1. Clark Rector says:

    Very exciting Jon. Thank you for doing this work! I love how you put the desks in a circle and want the classroom to be a safe place to take risks. Bravo!

    1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It is actually a super enjoyable and reflective activity for me at this juncture in my career to be able to interview these amazing educators. We are all learning a ton (hopefully)! Thanks for listening!

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