In a Positive Light

In a building full of depressing dull, English teacher Brett Mach works to keep his room full of positive energy.

Zach Harris, Staff Writer

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Welcome back! It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!”

 

The windowless room full of students with their heads pressed to their desks look to the middle of the room as teacher Brett Mach’s voice breaks through to begin his Junior AP English class. His values and positivity shine through the dull dark of the classroom. With half of the lights off and students ready to learn the rest of the day, Mach plays no small role in the energy of the room.

“You have to have a positive attitude, because, you know, it can be a lousy world,” Mach said. “If you’re not, it can be pretty miserable.”

Not a single person takes his class because they want to, and he sees the lack of interest as a minor setback. Mach notes that English is a very commonly hated subject by students. 

I want students to be able to be effective communicators, because that really does make a difference. Their success regardless of their career path, regardless of their academic path, it’ll make a difference in their future.”

— Brett Mach

“The default setting is ‘I don’t want to be here. It’s morning.’ We all have to be in a windowless room together,” Mach said. “Could be really lousy. That could be a depressing environment to live in.”

He worries about the struggle of making the curriculum interesting, but still meeting requirements.

“I look forward to lessons, and I always wonder if kids will get into it or not,” Mach said. “There’s kind of that suspense, like, is this going to be a flop? Is this going to be good? I care a lot about this. And I know that students won’t care as much as I do, but maybe they’ll catch a little bit of it.”

Love is not about you. It’s about others. It’s about the world”

— Brett Mach

Mach, with his metaphorical glass half full approach to life, attempts to make everyone’s day a little bit brighter. His value of sacrificial love changes the dynamic of his classroom.

“Love is not about you. It’s about others. It’s about the world.”

He’s not quite sure what his students think of him, but he hopes it’s positive.

“Maybe thoughtful?” Mach said, “I’m not sure if they would use that word. I think some students really look forward to this class. Others, not so much. I know I always look forward to class with them. Some think I’m too laid back, others too harsh, so I’m not so sure what my class thinks.”

Mach is understanding, and brings it into his teaching style. He understands everyone is only human. He talks about how teachers are flawed too.

“We don’t follow through with things,” Mach said. “We’re late for meetings. Sometimes students don’t follow through on assignments. I can enforce a rule, have some sort of consequence, but I still dignify them as a human being,”

He says he’s no better than students.

“Hey, I make mistakes, too,” Mach said. “I’ve had consequences, too. And I fall short. I don’t bat 1,000. I have problems, that doesn’t mean that I just get an excuse, or I just can still skate through life and have people better the rules for me or open doors that I don’t deserve, that would be entitlement, right? I can still receive consequences. And, and that’s okay, that doesn’t mean that I’m less valuable as a human being, that doesn’t mean that there has to be a rift in a relationship. It doesn’t mean I think less of you as a student, or treat me with any less respect. But there’s lots and lots of those moments when, you know, in my role as a teacher, I have to count a tardy, or sorry, you missed the deadline here, am I going to get half credit on this assignment?”

He tries to convey the importance of understanding one another, and that not a single person is perfect.

“People aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect, either. But it doesn’t mean that I think worse of you, or I think that you are, do in your future, something like that. Yeah. So maintaining respect, that’s how I would want to be treated by a superior by my boss, you know, off the wall. Sometimes I want my boss to be like, understanding and gracious, even when there are consequences”.

 

During his final class for the year, he wishes to give one last piece of advice.

“Have a delightful summer. Be thoughtful. Be kind to one another. Be a respectful human being.”