After school on Thursday, March 15th, Mr. Bild, between numerous reassessments from both his math two and statistics students, makes time for an interview addressing his career at Uni and his plans for retirement. The interview begins:
Mr. Bild: Alright… you wanted to talk? You wanted to interview me.
Yes. How has your day been.
Mr. Bild: Oh, it’s been pretty good. The end of the quarter is always a little hectic, but I’m still on my fee-
Anonymous Uni Student: I’m ready!! (Mr. Bild pauses, then tends to the student and their reassessment before returning to the interview).
Mr. Bild: Alright… (laughs) What would you like to know?
How many years have you been teaching at Uni?
Mr. Bild: 25.
Have all of those years been as a freshman math teacher?
Mr. Bild: Nooo, I’ve taught every grade level. I’ve taught every course from second year calculus down to subbie algebra, except for… for some reason I never taught first year calculus. I’ve taught every grade level at one point or another. I taught the subbies for a long time, been teaching stats for a long time, things move around.
Have you taught at any other schools before Uni?
Mr. Bild: No, I did teach as a grad student… when I was a grad student, I taught undergraduates math, but not in high school.
What made you want to become a math teacher, or a teacher in general?
Mr. Bild: (pauses) Well, I’ll admit to have grown into the job. Originally, I just took the job for a tuition waiver and to finish my degree. But it happened to turn out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be. So I stuck it out, but I can’t believe I hung around for 25 years (laughs). I always thought I was gonna go somewhere else but then I never did. Lack of ambition, I guess, is the reason I became a teacher.
What has been your favorite part of teaching Uni students?
Mr. Bild: Oh… Well I don’t know. What I enjoy the most may not even be the actually teaching, but just having conversations with clever kids about interesting ideas. In the classroom, what I like the best is when students figure things out and someone says, “Oh! I get it!” I mean, that’s really exciting to a teacher.
What has been the most challenging part of teaching Uni students?
Mr. Bild: Dealing with the bureaucracy (sighs). In all the reports and forms and trying to remember deadlines. It’s just… challenging.
What were your views on Uni before you came to the school?
Mr. Bild: No views because I had never heard of it. I’m from out of town.
Where are you from?
Mr. Bild: Well I grew up in Chicago, lived in New York for a long time. But (Uni) was just a high school for as far as I was concerned. I didn’t realize how different it was from other high schools until I actually taught here for awhile.
How have the students, or the overall climate of Uni, changed since you first started teaching here?
Mr. Bild: One thing I notice is clothes are a bigger deal now. When I started teaching in the 90s, for boys and girls alike, the uniform used to be flannel shirts and blue jean… and boots. But now, people dress up a lot more. I’m not saying that’s good, I’m not saying that’s bad, it’s just a difference. (pauses) On the other hand, I think that kids are more polite. I think that, back in the old days, there were a lot of issues with student behaviors, and it took a while to deal with that. Just an issue with manners, and kids feeling… entitled to stuff. But that’s changed.
You’ve mentioned that you have a comic book collection you plan on selling. Could you tell me about that?
Mr. Bild: Pfff. (laughs) It’s just a vise, you know, something I started doing when I was a kid. I always liked pretty colors, exciting stories… it’s a world onto itself, but I’m not really part of a comic book fan culture; I don’t go to comic book conventions or anything. It’s just something, I don’t know, I collected all this junk and now it’s sitting in 26 boxes in my basement, and I gotta get rid of it. So I’m gonna sell it because it’s worth money. I don’t wanna just throw it away, like a lot of other things I’m gonna throw away (laughs). So that’s it. Anybody out there that wants to spend their college tuition money on my comic collection, you have my email.
Talking about the math department specifically, have reassessments (and standard based grading) always been a part of Uni?
Mr. Bild: No, that was just an idea that came about… a colleague and I, who is no longer here, we attended a conference, it was Mr. Russell’s idea to go, to learn about standard based grading. So I guess we started doing it maybe 12, 15 years ago? But we’ve done a lot of variations on it. So it changed over the years, but that’s when it started.
Final Question, What are your retirement plans?
Mr. Bild: Once I retire, the first thing I’m gonna do is try to get our congressman to retire also, if you know what I mean (Gives a mischievous smile). But also, I intend to travel, sleep light, you know I’m gonna stay active. I’m gonna try to do some political work around, try to do something about the way the political climate in the country seems to be even worse than it ever was. So some things that might help a little ways to correcting that. And… gosh, all these ideas… I don’t intend to work, If I do any work, it’ll be volunteer work. I’m certainly not interested in, I might eat my words, but I don’t think I’m gonna do anything with math. I’m pretty tired. But my wife and I talk about traveling a lot, so that’s our expectation. We plan on leaving Champaign. That’ll be in about two years. We gotta sell the house, and she’s gotta worry about retirement, Yeah, we’ll head off to Chicago and, while we’re still able, travel as much as possible. Yeah, we’ll take it easy.
(Multiple seconds pass) Well, thanks for-
Mr. Bild: -Cooking!! I love to cook. And this way there’ll be no pressure so I don’t have to worry about grading papers so I can spend more time doing it. So that’s another plan. Yeah that’s it.
Alright. Thank you for your time. Have fun with your reassessments.
Mr. Bild: Yeah… (Begins to laugh, which slowly turns into a sigh).