Middle School Science Teacher
Los Angeles, CA
Marvin Cano was raised by two hard-working Mexican immigrants who came to the United States in search of a better life. When his father came to this country, he had the equivalent of a third grade education, while his mother had no formal education at all.
Equipped with the support and wisdom of his family, Mr. Cano was able to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Whittier College. After college, he began his career in education working as a teaching assistant at Para Los Ninos Charter School. Shortly thereafter, he began the Teacher Education Master’s Program at UCLA. After two years of research and fieldwork, he received his Multiple Subject Credential as well as his Masters of Education degree as a Dean’s Scholar.
At the moment, Mr. Cano teaches middle school science and writing at Extera Public Schools, serving Hispanic students from the Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles in California.
As a science teacher, Mr. Cano works to deliver a science-based curriculum that has real implications for the lives of students. To bring awareness to climate change, seventh grade students are publishing informative essays using data from both National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Meanwhile, sixth graders studied neurology by dissecting a sheep’s brain. In this exploration, students were able to study the lobes and nerves also found in the human brain. Students also got the chance to use the same tools that surgeons use on a daily basis.
By immersing students in activities like this, he hopes to inspire other educators to design curriculums that are not only relevant to the lives of students, but also helps students become agents of change.
Why do you teach?
I teach because I want to be a resource for my students and their families. More specifically, I want to equip my students with the knowledge and confidence to maneuver a world that has historically denied them the opportunities they deserve. I teach because I want my students to become the surgeons, detectives, or physical therapists that they have long aspired to be. I also teach because I want to break down the language barrier that often exists between schools and families.
What do you love about teaching?
The best part of teaching is building relationships with my students. Since I teach 6th and 7th graders, I never know what a day is going to be like. There may be days when I can talk about anything my students, but there are also days when I have to deal with anger, tears, and frustrations. Although it might not be apparent, it is on these days that teachers have the opportunity to become superheroes. On those tumultuous days, I make sure to talk to my students one-on-one, give them scheduled breaks, or simply give them their spaces. It’s amazing to see how much students appreciate you when you take the time to care for them. Although I rarely get a thank you, I know I’ve made a difference when students greet me the next day with a warm, “Sup, Mr.” or that classic up and down head nod.
When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?
When I was in high school, I had a math teacher who made me retake a math course, even though I was only one point away from a passing grade. I remember going to him after school to pretty much beg him to pass me. After a few minutes of silence, he looked at me and told me that he was going to do me a disservice if he allowed me to pass. I remember storming out the classroom in complete shock, because I didn’t understand what he meant. Now that I’m older and wiser, I greatly appreciate Mr. Aviles for doing that. That conversation now shapes the lifestyle I live and the amount of effort that I put into my teaching.