• Chloe James

Front of the Class-How Brad Cohen Inspired my Teaching Journey

Who’s Brad Cohen?

So firstly, if you don’t know who Brad Cohen is, read about him here on his personal website and here on his foundation website. Go ahead, I’ll wait!

Brad has been teaching for over 20 years, and his amazing contribution to education has earned him not only the awesome respect of his peers, but also awards including the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher of the Year Award for the State of Georgia.

image sourced from https://www.azquotes.com/author/72766-Brad_Cohen

He was also born with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological condition characterised by motor and phonic tics. This made it challenging to get his first teaching gig, and led to many rejections and people questioning his ability to teach with his condition.

His teaching Journey

Once his first school gave him the chance to show his skills, however, he proved that he was able to teach not only in spite of his condition by in, through and about it. Being open and honest with his students right up front, and being open to their questions meant that he was able to get ahead of it, and it no longer became the stressful elephant in the room many people thought it would be.

Front of the Class

His book, Front of the Class, was one of the very first books I read after I got my letter of acceptance into teacher’s college. It documented his journey with Tourette Syndrome and teaching, and how he overcame it and used it as a teaching tool for those around him.

His book inspired the way I have dealt with my condition from my very first placement class- open, honest and front of the class!

Tourette Syndrome and Epilepsy

Now, I know that the two conditions are different, but there is overlap between Tourette’s and epilepsy. Both reside in the brain, both can affect the way a person behaves or physically controls their body at times and both can be regarded by potential employers as problematic. Even as someone who has relative control over their condition as do I, it can still feel like I’m putting out fires before they exist when I’m talking to potential new employers about my condition.

But that’s another thing both conditions have in common. They both need more awareness surrounding them so that people don’t have that reaction when you tell them!

Continuing to Inspire

I contacted Brad when I decided to write this blog post, telling how much he inspires me and has inspired my teaching journey. It made my day when he replied thanking me for letting him know! He continues to inspire me to this day, and I recommend his book to any new or experienced teachers out there.

It shows that no matter what obstacles you’ve got to overcome,

You’ve got this!

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