GeauxTeach STEM: Anthony Felder Encourages Mindset of Perseverance in His Students and Athletes

By Rebecca Nguyen

February 16, 2024

Name: Anthony Felder 

Graduation Year: 2022

Degree: Mathematics, Concentration in Secondary Education


High School Math Teacher at Brusly High School

High School Track & Field Coach Brusly High School

 Portrait of Anthony Felder

Anthony Felder, GeauxTeach Alumnus

What do you do in your current position? What makes you happy to be doing it? 

  • I teach math and coach track at Brusly High School. What makes me happy is seeing the kids grow, seeing their confidence evolve. That’s on both sides (track and classroom). It’s really rewarding for me, especially in a subject as rigorous as math. 
  • I think there are a lot of students who lack confidence in mathematics, having some gaps from COVID-19. There’s been a gap in accountability and standards of excellence. I have high expectations for my students. It is cool how when they get to me and those standards are in place, that they do rise to the occasion. 
  • I teach some of the athletes so it’s cool to have that relationship already and be able to carry it into the classroom. 
 Anthony prepares for the next event at a high school track meet.

Anthony prepares for the next event at a high school track meet.

What are some challenges of teaching? 

  • It can be challenging to see students not having the skill of perseverance, you know the mindset of — yes this is hard, but I’ll be able to get through it. Students quit or don’t persevere sometimes and for me that’s hard to see. As a young person myself, I’ve always had the trait of perseverance. It was tough working with students who didn’t have that strength. I enjoy being a part of developing that trait in kids. It’s a beautiful thing seeing young people mature and to be a part of it. 
  • And then too, finding a balance of everything that’s required of teachers; I definitely have a lot of support from my team, administration, and parents, but I know that other teachers are having a difficult time. On top of the usual grading, writing lesson plans, answering emails to parents and administration, there’s also keeping up with technology updates, managing the classroom environment, helping students manage their emotions, being able to manage your own emotions in handling students; There’s a lot going into it that you don’t think about. To add to the list, there’s collecting data, handing out mandatory assessments, making sure assessments are secure, handling cheating, etc. We have a lot of little things on our plate that you don’t think about going into it.

What were the most valuable things that you got from your undergraduate experience? 

  • Definitely the field experience. Teaching was never really an option for me until I went into the classroom and got that experience. 
  • I also appreciate how the entire experience is one big giant example of scaffolding; We start with teaching younger students and the master teachers are more hands-on with their support. Having that gradual release is valuable. By student teaching, we get to take more ownership over some things that we might want to implement in our own classroom. 

What is it that you wanted to do when you started GeauxTeach? 

  • I wanted to be a physical therapist. I took the intro chemistry class and it sucked. I switched my major to Math and I had to pick a concentration. Yeah, it was kinda like okay let’s do this because I know what it means. Secondary education sounded like something that was normal. 
  • It was really Step 1 [SCI 2010] that made the difference, you know learning about the profession at a very basic level, it was eye-opening to say the least. I learned some things about teaching that I never knew. Being able to teach math lessons to local 5th grade students confirmed that I wanted to teach but it also confirmed that I wanted to teach an older age group.

What did you learn in GT that informs how you think about teaching? What skills did you learn in GT that have benefitted you in your career? 

  • Hmm…I think one thing that was really big in GeauxTeach was being able to find opportunities for student-led instruction. And I think that has benefited me a lot in student engagement which trickles over into classroom management. Having that foundation helps me plan lessons now. 
  • That’s been the most effective way of learning that I’ve seen work so far. I had a lot of practice in GeauxTeach and had the opportunity to get good at it. It doesn’t always lend itself well to certain lessons. It does take some balance. Sometimes it’s a lecture, sometimes it’s inquiry based, but either way I use the same cycle. I’m going to introduce the material. We’ll put some things together and from there, the students will start leading, bring us into a formative assessment and we’ll go from there with their own ideas.
  • Another skill — I don’t remember exactly which class but we had one class where we were talking about collecting data and our professor was very intent on saying yes — collect data but also include the human element when collecting data. In our community we have had some major tragedies in the last year. There are things going on outside of school that a student might not talk about. In that class, that experience helps me make informed decisions. 
 Anthony and his mom attend the annual Educator Excellence Awards Gala in New Orleans, where he is recognized as a New Teacher of the Year Finalist.

Anthony and his mom attend the annual Educator Excellence Awards Gala in New Orleans, where he is recognized as a New Teacher of the Year Finalist.

During your undergraduate, you were featured in the LSU Reveille regarding the lack of representation of black male teachers in Baton Rouge. The problem remains for schools in Louisiana and nationwide. What does it mean to you to be a black male educator? 

  • As a black male educator, I think it is important that I’m occupying the spaces that I am. I think it allows all students to see black men in a light in which we are not necessarily portrayed. We are oftentimes portrayed in the media as athletes or entertainers, but this position allows me to be a more personable role model by way of creating relationships. 

Where do you find support?

  • I find the most support honestly from my family and some of my black colleagues. I am grateful to work in a school that has many other black teachers in the building. We have definitely built a network of support for each other even in the small things.
  • I think one of the biggest challenges I run into as a black male educator is the underlying or silent assumption that we are okay with doing what I call the “dirty work.” Things like being a disciplinarian, breaking up fights, enforcing rules, etc. I don’t think the problem lies in actually doing the work. I think the problem is more so in the assumption. This problem does have an easy remedy fortunately. Ironically, the fix is education. Educating and training all teachers would allow them to be comfortable enough to handle the situations that arise instead of defaulting to someone who looks like they should know what to do.
 Anthony at the Louisiana Teacher Leader Summit, recognized as a state finalist for New Teacher of the Year.

Anthony at the Louisiana Teacher Leader Summit, recognized as a state finalist for New Teacher of the Year.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

  • I was recently a Louisiana New Teacher of the Year finalist, and we were invited to attend the Teacher Leader Summit. For our posters, we had to decide on a short phrase that defines our teaching. I decided on “Service is the heart of teaching”. Being there for the kids is at the heart of what I do day in and day out. 
  • Being a New Teacher of the year finalist for the state was pretty cool. It was fun and it felt like a lot of recognition for my first year so it was very meaningful. It was nice to be honored for all of the hard work that I had put in in my first year. 
  • Enjoy the simple things that you go through on the day to day. We teachers may not get through the lesson all the way each day, but being able to see the kids each day keeps me going. At the end of the day, it’s bigger than the content. Being able to interact keeps me going.