Inspirational Educator: Chelsea B-F – Teaching isn’t a profession, it’s a lifestyle.

How long have you been teaching?

I just finished my first year of teaching in June!

Why did you choose to teach as a career?

Growing up I was able to attend wonderful private liberal art high school that gave me endless opportunities to succeed and grow, with teachers who genuinely cared about me. Not everyone gets experiences like this, and I wanted to be the type of teacher I had. Everyone deserves a teacher who treats them like a human being. My mom is also a retired special education teacher so I think the teaching bug was always in my bones.

Many people question if our current education system is working. What do you think?

Ha ha ha. We have such a long way to go. It’s overwhelming and daunting, but with teachers I have met over this past year, I think we’ll start to make a change for the better.

What would you like to see being taught in our classrooms?

I would love to see more student generated classroom topics. Communicate with your students, what are they yearning to know and learn about? There is also so much that can be done with pop culture…analyzing music and movies and art. Even video games for that matter! We try so hard to prepare them for the real world, so why don’t we bring the world to them before we throw them out of the nest?

If you have been teaching less than five years, do you intend to stay in the profession? Explain your feelings.

Yes! There’s just something so amazing about watching a student have a light bulb moment. Especially if they have been struggling and finally achieve their goal, it’s a feeling you can’t describe. Also graduation. I basically blubbered like a baby when I saw my Seniors walk across that stage—definitely a feeling I could get used to. Being so incredibly proud of these young adults.

Share your proudest teacher moment.

I taught a slam poetry and memoir unit with my 10th graders this year where they were supposed to write a slam poem about themselves and their lives. They worked so hard on these poems and at the end of the unit they got in front of the class and performed their poem. It was absolutely amazing to see them get out of their comfort zone, but there was something else even more moving. The amount of respect and support all my students had for one another while someone else was up in front was breathtaking. I’ll always remember the audience’s pin drop silence during each performance, and the positive comments they gave one another.

What is the most important message about teaching that you would like people to know?

Teaching isn’t a profession, it’s a lifestyle. We want your children to succeed, and there will be bumps in the road and that is OK.

How can parents and Educators work together to better to ensure children are successful?

Communication and being present. Parents—get to know your child’s teacher. Make a plan. Know that you are all on the same team! And for teachers—get to know your students’ parents! There is such a stigma surrounding the “call home,” but a teacher shouldn’t call home just for negative things. Call home to tell your students’ parents how much you admired their respectful behavior during a presentation that day. How proud of them you are when they took the initiative to stay after school and work on a project. Building relationships takes a lot of work, and it will take both parents and teachers, but it’s worth it to see your students succeed.

What is the most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners?

Teach them failure is part of the process, and to not be afraid to take risks. Let them know it’s not about making a mistake or “failing,” it’s about how you tackle the situation after.

Who is most Inspirational Teacher you’ve had? Why?

My Spanish teacher in high school ended up being my advisor and college counselor. We still keep in touch and have a tradition of getting Chinese food buffet at least twice a year with our families. He always made me feel capable and important. He respected me and made me feel like I was a person, not just a student. It was more than just trying to get good grades and ace tests, it was about creating an environment in the class where we all mattered.

How many hours a week do you spend completing all of your duties related to your job. Are there any extra duties that people may find surprising or not consider that you have to complete?

A LOT of hours. Teaching doesn’t stop when you walk out of school. Even on the weekends, I’m thinking about lesson planning. I’m always trying to come up with new and interesting ways to get my students excited about a unit I know may be particularly challenging. It doesn’t stop. Even now, it’s summer and I’m working on planning out my year, going to conferences, and trying not to have nightmares about missing the first bell!

What do you think is a fair salary for teachers? Keep in mind the argument that celebrities make millions and teachers are always struggling?

1 BILLION DOLLARS! Haha just kidding, but really, teachers are extremely underpaid. I don’t know an exact number, but definitely more than current average salaries.

Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?

Is there a teacher yet who has said no?

If you had a wish list of needs for your classroom what would the top three things be?

Honestly, I’m not sure if this answers the question, but I’d love to give my students more opportunities to see the world. This could be a field trip to see a play/musical, some sort of trip abroad even, or just even have more inspirational speakers come in.

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