Episode 4: An Interview with Kim Sorenson

Our host, Jon Hinthorne, interviews a most wonderful and unconventional (yet still conventional too) teacher, Kim Sorenson. Kim is an 8th grade English Teacher at the Charter School of Morgan Hill in Morgan Hill, California. In this episode, Kim explores how she balances between both conventional and unconventional methods of teaching English. 

In this episode, Kim shares with us a couple unconventional teachers moves such as asking her students to chose a goal for her to accomplish along side them as they set and achieve their goals. Beyond modeling what she expects from her students, she shares with them who she is as a person. Needless to say, her colleagues and students love her!

She is a true gem in this profession. 

Charter School of Morgan Hill: www.csmh.org

Podcast Credits:

Host: Jon Hinthorne

Podcast Editor and Producer: Jon Hinthorne 

Website: www.anunconventionalteacher.com

Blog: https://www.anunconventionalteacher.com/blog/ 

Social Media: https://instabio.cc/anunconventionalteacher 

Website and Media Designer: Nina Telthorst

Graphic Designer: Gracie Bonwich

Podcast Available on: Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Breaker, and Overcast

Inquiries: anunconventionalteacher@gmail.com

RSS Feed: https://anchor.fm/s/40e71874/podcast/rss

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.

00:00:36 Okay, welcome to an interview with Kim Sorenson. Most of you probably don’t know Kim Sorensen, but you should Kim is absolutely wonderful. I got the chance to work with him for three years and she inspired not only me but all of her students every single one of them that walked in front of her. I got a chance to reach out to someone barf some of our former students in light of a conversation that Kim and I had it before this interview where she cited she’s not quite sure if she’s an unconventional teacher I had to go and I go to the store s go to the students then I went to three or four students and I won’t name any names because they are minors but I’m each of them have cited Miss Sorenson as they lovingly call her as truly an unconventional teacher her ways her demeanor her relationship with student. I’m so excited to have you here Kim. Welcome to the show 

00:01:32 Welcome to An Unconventional Teacher. I’m going to have you introduce yourself cuz you can do way better than I just did and then we’ll get to our three questions. We’re so excited. You’re here. Welcome Kim.

00:01:44 introduction, so yeah, I’m Kim Sorenson and I’ve been teaching for a very long time since the early 1990s and I taught I taught at 3 schools throughout my career one was in east side San Jose and a fairly Urban School District at Piedmont metal and it was a wonderful experience where I talk English and drama and had an amazing supportive group of people helped me become a teacher and really I was just so fortunate in that everybody at that school was

00:02:25 Genuinely interested in seeing me grow as a as a professional and I had wonderful students and it’s a great many opportunities and I taught there for seven years and at that point. I just I think I really discovered who I was as a teacher, but then I took 7 years off to have my daughter and then return to teaching and I actually had thought I was retired. I thought that was ever coming back to teaching but I changed my mind and I got a job at in Gilroy and I taught and if Intervention Program there let my students were mostly they were pretty serious legal and educational trouble and structured.

00:03:13 School situation where they had like they had a scripted program that I was supposed to do and I learned very quickly that scripted was not for me. I thought I could do it. I thought I could make it work for myself, but I found myself feeling so frustrated because I couldn’t reach the kids the way I wanted to reach and stick with the script on a schedule that was dead for so I left there and went to Tudor School Morgan. How much is a pbl based on school? And I’ve been there now for years and I think the home my educational home. I absolutely love with a very fortunate wonderful students wonderful colleague. We still miss you though.

00:03:53 I miss being there truly truly absolutely miss being there a shout out to the Charter School of Morgan Hill. It’s in Morgan Hill. Just south of San Jose, California if you’re listening and not from California, and I want to go back in just tights at pbl. If you if you’re not sure of what that is is project-based learning. So the charter school that we got to work out together and Tim still works. Is is a project-based learning school and truly. So I one of the first in the area

00:04:29 awesome. Thank you for that introduction. We’re going to start in today with talking about what inspires you. So what inspires you Kim Sorenson to be a teacher.

00:04:39 So I didn’t think I was going to be a teacher, I had a really difficult but you guys told troubled childhood. It was my family was right with alcoholism drug addiction violence was really, to have the police at my house. I was extremely troubled kid up at school is my refuge and was the teachers were supportive of me and kind and there was books there and I absolutely love books has a kid and I like learning and it was a much safer place than it was at home. I wasn’t a particularly good student until high school and actually a middle school. I was dismal, but he just reached out to me time to me and they were encouraging to me and their words really resonated and stuck in a code with me and they changed my life. And so I thought to myself that I would go back and I would teach for a few years before I started my my masters of fine arts program and I would teach for just a few years and pay back that second Etsy well, but long when I really just fell in love with it.

00:05:38 What inspires me to teach still is that teachers reached out and they changed my life and I want to do the same. But if I read a book once called among school children by Tracy Kidder minute, he uses this metaphor of a child’s life. It were a person’s life is like a stream and has a course and we as teachers have handfuls of Pebbles and we throw our Pebbles into their stream and if you throw enough Pebbles, it’s like one time without using are going to change the course of a stream just throw enough tables in you could and you can even get the banks to overflow.

00:06:15 I think a lot about that. That’s something that has always stuck with me in that.

00:06:20 The teacher who changed my life did not see that change in me. They they didn’t see the results of their words and that moment it didn’t happen with like the light bulb one off and all the sudden I transformed it wasn’t a Disney movie. But so that you just don’t even know what they did change my life. So I like to think about that metaphor a lot. I strive to keep throwing my pebbles in again and again and again and I hope that it’s enough the second question that I wanted ask all my interviewees is related to our theme of this podcast and this movement over this group of teachers that were trying to get together in and really I have to say teachers and parents and I want to bring that discussion in with you because I know your parents have a wonderful wonderful now sophomore in college, but none the less. Can you let us know what makes you strive everyday to be an unconventional teacher?

00:07:20 But I can see why someone might but for me I think of myself actually a fairly old school and then I focused really hard on what other people would think of his old school things he wearied we write we talk we are complete I still teach grammar although in contacts. So I I think of myself as more old school then unconventional, but I’m willing to try new things any time to drop at the house and I think it’s number one. I’d like change and I really enjoy a challenge. I really enjoy discovery that the plural of something new something fun. So for example, each quarter my students set a goal for themselves and it’s part of their grade is 10% of your grade if they reach this goal and the goal is usually something like I’m going to read this this book is how to be a little bit higher than their grade level or I’m going to try this John Mayer. I’m going to go back and read it all last quarter’s papers for this mistake that I keep saying to make something along those lines of a set a goal for me and I do that so that number one I can

00:08:20 Model that behavior. Like how does have a goal how to break it down into steps what to do if you run into problems and then how to reflect when it’s all over I do for that. And I also do it because it makes it an interesting for them. They really enjoy bossing me around and having control is nothing an adolescent likes better than to control something. I don’t know you’re talking about a middle schooler wanting to control something away.

00:08:45 So like I’ve had a really interesting cool that they have set for me. Like I had to write a parody of the Magic School Bus and I had to be about them and I had to illustrate it and so they pretended she was things that are some fairly difficult for me. They look at what my weaknesses are. They trying to find things are going to be hard for me. I think cuz I like to torment me but it fits again that control thing and it’s fun to see me struggle cuz I had to write a Horror Story cuz I’m a poet and I thought that was like a stretched last year. I remember rap song and how to make a rap video music video and I had to write 72 of them a personal 72 in a personal letter A Love that but each of these for me or difficult and they were overwhelming and I went to it but in the end.

00:09:38 I learned a lot from each of them. They were so fun. I could do something different once a quarter to do something outside. My box are all the time to use that terrible cliche, but it’s fun to be to do something unconventional do something outside. It’s exciting. So it I guess I strive to be unconventional because it’s fun. I love it. So you just prove yourself wrong. I think that’s awesome. Thank you for that. And there are a myriad of other things that I have seen you do that. I might call upon and future episodes of this podcast. I hope I hope I have your permission to call upon those.

00:10:19 Looking at our last question. Can you give us one story that illustrates when taking those risks has benefited you and or your students and or your class every time with Kim, so it was a particularly funny goofy group of children. Every kid’s every group has its own flavor as you know, and that’s what this group was very funny, but they they said a teacher and so I have Kaylee with dropping those stories about my life in inside inside of a lesson which act me know everyone is inclined to do but I had in a pretty interesting life and they’ve decided they wanted to have a story time with Kim an hour. They want the whole. For me just to tell them stories and about me and I think partially because they wanted to

00:11:19 Jack Daniels it there and hang out and do nothing for a. That’s how it’s done and just listen also because I think that they want to know me better and that they were kind of curious and the iPhone personal stories for the for the 50 minutes and it was I was terrified. I’m so funny cuz I’m not normally afraid to speak in front of any circumstances. I have lots of experience. I’m comfortable doing that and I’m a teacher right but I was shaking inside. It was very frightening to be real with them. And that way I always strive to be real but it was a rock and I really like putting myself out there showing who I have been and who I am and who I hope to be and it was terrifying and so I’m standing there and I’m telling I’m telling the stories and one of my students who is now an adult so I can use his name. Jacob was sitting in the chair and he’s all sprawled across this chair the way he did and he

00:12:19 It’s not there with his look upon his face and I thought to myself. Oh, no, I’m boring them and I own my heart is studying and I’m but I’m going through I’m going to carry on I’m doing it and I get through the whole thing and the bell rings an ice cube 7 Jacob gets up to go and I said, I’m really sorry and I understood you understand Jacob, but he said no because I knew he and he really meant it and I could tell from his face. He really meant it in and then afterwards like that group of kids and I were so bonded from that experience and afraid of hearing complaints from parents.

00:13:19 and I with my heart was setting again and I opened it up and it was some parent talking about how their daughter couldn’t stop talking about story time and how

00:13:31 Remind her. Her daughter was relieved by my story because I talked about how my package changed and I thought it was going to be one thing. It was another and how happy I am that I end up where I was.

00:13:42 This little girl. She’s 14 years old, and apparently she been just

00:13:47 Really sort of tormented by the fact that all of her friends whole life plan and she didn’t it 14 and she turned it up as you go along and find yourself really happy with for her such a relief. I thought the places you unpack them and never really think you’re going to unpack them. So there was was super weird that I was terrified, but I learned a couple things from obviously had those kinds of lessons reinforced. I can to learn the same things over and over again as a teacher, but I also learned how powerful storytelling really can be and how it even if an eighth grade a hunger for that and they wanted and they they loved it and sometimes I think we think that they’re too old for that kind of thing, but they really are we’re going to let that resonate thank you so much Kim. We have three questions. We have a small short podcast, but the thing that I really enjoy is the fact that you’re modeling for your students you are.

00:14:46 Actually going out and doing a goal when you ask them to do a goal and not only are you doing a goal with them, but you’re having them assigned goal, which is Ultimate vulnerability there. So often in our profession that we get good at something. I’ve been guilty of this all the time and I say here’s the Box there’s that good thing. I’m good at nobody touches it. I’m going to take it out and July what you know and look at it again and say I’m really good at that. I’m going to do that again next year and then come January or whenever you implemented you do it, and you don’t never asked for feedback, and you continually are asking for feedback each semester saying what can my Goldie and you model that for your students and the connections that we’re hearing from you and your story in particular that that one student Jacob. I know who you’re talking about he connected with you and he was listening. So those two things kind of stood out for me. I want to thank you for your time. I hope our list.

00:15:46 Again enjoyed listening as much as I got to listen to you again. I miss you. I miss working with you, and it was so fun to reconnect with some of our students in preparation for this episode. So enjoy your holidays. I hope your Thanksgiving was great and be well. Thank you Kim.

00:16:16 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.

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