Reverbs from the ECHO Chamber — a Q & A with Mr. Tyler Harris

Ben Taylor '20, Staff Reporter

Trinity teacher Mr. Tyler Harris                                                  Signature Studio

Another in a continuing series of Q & A interviews with Trinity faculty, staff and administrators.

Having graduated from Trinity and taught as a long-term substitute teacher for Mr. Trevor Timmerberg’s freshman English class, Mr. Tyler Harris returned as a full-time English/broadcast journalism teacher. He discussed his love of Trinity, teaching — and movies!

Q: What was it like going from a substitute position to a full-time position?

A: I would argue that being a sub is actually harder than being a full-time teacher because you’re going from classroom to classroom, and you don’t know from day to day if you’re going to work. You might get a call at six in the morning, and you would get up and go to school. For me, that was harder than knowing “Okay, I have to get up and go to school.” Plus, the pay is a lot better.

As far as the jump into the classroom is concerned, I subbed for Mr. (Trevor) Timmerberg while he was on his deployment, and being there for a longer time helped me get reacquainted with Trinity and all of its new systems. But as far as getting in front of the classroom and taking the reigns and saying this is my classroom, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I think (subbing) was super helpful to make that transition.

Q: What made you come back to Trinity after five years?

A: When I left Trinity, I knew the goal was to come back and teach. That was my goal from the start. I adore Bellarmine, and I think that it was pretty much the greatest four years of my life, despite the incredibly hard work they require of you there. It was an amazing time and an amazing experience, and I majored in English. The whole time in the back of my head, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher.

I am doing my master’s degree right now. I started in January with those classes. The plan from the get-go was to come back to Trinity to teach. My inspiration for this was I had a really transformative year my sophomore year at Trinity. I fell in love with English. I was always writing things and loved writing and reading.

When I stepped into Coach (Gary) Owens’ room my sophomore year, he sits in front of the classroom and stays quiet and stares at us for about 15 minutes. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever experienced, but I knew right then and there I wanted to influence kids the way he influenced me. So what did I do? I kept my connections, I maintained relationships with people in the English Department; I kept tabs with the ECHO.  I am just so, so lucky that the chips just fell in the right way. I am incredibly grateful for the job I have today, and I’m not taking any of it for granted. Every time I stand up in front of one of these classrooms, I’m pouring my heart and soul into it.

I feel like the past five years have, with help from Trinity, turned me into the person that I am today.”

Q: How do you incorporate your English background into your broadcast journalism class?

A: I look at the work we do in broadcast the same way I look at the work we do in English, but logistically it’s very different. In English class, I give them reminders, then we read together, then we respond to questions together, then we discuss together. Every class is pretty much segmented that way. I view the broadcast classes the same way. They are a little bit more relaxed, but you’re still learning something new; you’re still doing work. What it ultimately comes down to, English or broadcast, it’s all about storytelling. When I was getting ready for the school year, I was able to sit back and realize that these two classes are about the same thing. They are about who we are as people because that’s what stories are all about. Listening to a story tells you a lot about not just about the person telling the story, but the people inside the story.

Q: What is it like going from teaching a class of sophomores to a class full of seniors?

A: It’s night and day. I think the differences between the classes are incredible. I realized that when I subbed for Mr. Timmerberg last year. Sophomores are different than freshmen because they have somehow matured over the summer. I don’t know what happened to them, but it’s like two months sitting like a raisin in the sun. Juniors know colleges are actually looking at their transcripts. Seniors are a little different, but overall they’re not all that different; a student is going to be a student, a teacher is going to be a teacher, and it just comes down to the teacher’s philosophy inside the classroom that ultimately affects the students and their learning experience.

Q: So what is your favorite thing about each of the classes you teach.

A: My favorite thing about my English classes is the content I’m teaching. If you guide them along and help them, they can really enjoy the content. With broadcast, I’m working with older guys, and I can give them their work and I can trust that they will go do it.

Q: So between the two classes, which is your favorite?

A: Definitely English. I love being an English teacher. Broadcast can be pretty stressful, dealing with equipment and who has what and keeping track of it all. It also doesn’t help that I am not in the (studio as much).

Q: You mentioned that you were writing film scripts at an early age. How do you tie in your love for movies with your classes?

A: I think movies are this universal commodity that can be accessed by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate movies, there is still going to be a movie out there that speaks to you, that you really like in some form or fashion. We live in a time right now where movies are extremely accessible. With Netflix, Roku, etc., you can have an ocean of movies right at your fingertips. Using film as a jumping off point, I’m kind of hesitant about (doing that) unless you are in a film studies class. But I do really like giving the guys a visual aid. When we were reading Macbeth, we had four or five versions of Macbeth, and we were pulling from all of them. At the end of each class, we would watch a scene from what we had just read. That gives them that visual guide. Being able to connect what we just read with what we are watching right now, I think is always fun. Broadcast journalism is different because we don’t really talk about movies.

Q: So when did you really find your love for movies?

A: There is no discernible area in my life where I haven’t loved film. My dad tells a really good story about 1996, the year that I was born, and seeing the movie “Space Jam.” He took me as a baby, and he said there were other babies in the theatre that were screaming and crying, and I was the only baby that had my eyes glued to the screen the entire time. He jokes, “We knew that you were a movie fan from the very beginning.” If I had to pinpoint any given moment in my life when I realized just how powerful movies are, it would be in 2007.

My dad and I went to see “No Country for Old Men,” and I was like that was the best movie I’ve ever seen. Then just one week later, this movie called “There Will be Blood” came out, and it completely and totally floored me. It was the greatest movie I had ever seen, and it blew “No Country for Old Men” out of the water. That was the first time I had ever walked out of the movie theater without talking for 15 or 20 minutes after it was over because I was speechless. Since then, my mind has broadened a lot, and I will watch anything from Marvel and “Mission Impossible” to obscure French art films.

Q: What have you learned about teaching from your time as a sub until now?

A: I feel like I have learned so much. I’ve learned a lot about myself, who I am as a person, I’ve learned a lot of things about growing up — being a young person sitting at a desk and doing work versus sitting at the big desk and planning the work out.

I’ve learned a lot about life because it was only five years ago that I was in your position. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but in that time, I’ve gone to college, graduated from college, gotten married, got a couple of dogs, on our way to buying a house and started a new job that I love. I feel like the past five years have, with help from Trinity, turned me into the person that I am today.

They say that you are the sum total of your experiences. I’ve had the absolute greatest experiences, and I’ve had the worst experiences. Everyone has their issues and problems they have to deal with, and I’ve certainly had my fair share. But it just makes you who you are.