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Literary Las Vegas: Travis Bowker

Travis Bowker set out to become a mechanical engineer but changed gears and went into teaching. Employment prospects in upstate New York were dim, so he applied in Clark County. “With my black lab for a co-pilot, we were off on a memorable five-day 2,300- mile journey,” he said. Written as a letter to incoming educators, the local author shares his story and strategies for teaching success in “What Teaching Has Taught Me.” Bowker survived his first year stepping into a math classroom that had been occupied by a series of substitute teachers the first four weeks of school. He shares tips he attained through trial and error in more than a decade of teaching, the kind of tips teachers may not get in college.


The first individual priority should be your wardrobe. What you wear in the classroom can be as important as what you do. Dress professionally if you want the reputation of being a professional. Appearing as a professional makes a subtle, but measurable improvement in classroom behavior.

Early in my career I wore khakis and collared short-sleeve shirts. After a few years I began wearing long-sleeved dress shirts and ties. The result was a noticeable decrease in the number of behavioral issues I had to deal with in the classroom and the hallways. Discussions with others who dressed similarly have yielded similar results.

I have also worked with teachers who dress very casually. They are often the ones who seem to have more behavioral issues to deal with. Students I had no problems with in my class are disrespectful in their class. The difference in how we dress was not the only factor, but I’m sure it influenced the situation.

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