The GPS Blog
Made by Teachers: Learning is Messy with Nick Pretasky, Instructor at Plexus Education Center in Neenah, WI
In many ways, teaching is the single, most important profession. GPS instructors are no different, working hard to teach core subjects alongside career skills and life lessons. In this series, we want you to get to know these important individuals who put so much time and dedication into their classrooms and into their students. Meet the teachers who are making students that succeed in their education and in their technical careers.
Nick believes that when you are truly teaching, when you are developing a mindset of growth and learning, it isn’t going to be clean and perfect.
“I guess I decided to be a teacher because I think there is a better way that we can educate our students than what we are currently doing. I am kind of called on to improve how we educate our kids and our country, and, right now, I don’t think a traditional education is set up to help each student reach their full potential,” he said.
He has taught in charter schools in rural Minnesota, public schools in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and through a cool outdoor-science non-profit in Nevada (focusing on science). Throughout his years of teaching, he learned that it can get pretty messy.
“In my class, I believe that creating a positive learning culture allows students to feel safe to grow. It allows students to feel safe failing and understand that mistakes will help us learn. It’s necessary to really get our brain fired up.”
"Of course, I think it’s risky for teachers. It’s messy -- really messy -- to go in and know it isn’t going to be perfect. But perfection doesn’t allow for learning,” he explained.
Nick’s approach to teaching allows him to go beyond the cookie-cutter push for achievement and success by making room for vulnerability. For failure. For learning.
“Learning doesn’t look like rows of raised hands. And it isn’t how the real world works -- can you imagine going into work and sitting nicely and not doing anything until someone tells you what you should be doing? Or until a bell goes off? That’s not how the real world works,” Nick said.
So, maybe teaching is messy. But that’s how learning works.