How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 2 years.
Why did you choose to teach as a career?
I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid. The idea of being a teacher has always really intrigued me. I think as I got older my desire to be a teacher grew more out of a want to help others succeed; not only in my class, but in life in general. I have always loved reading and writing and wanted to share that love with others. Through teaching, I grew to realize (and can now confirm) you can really help others in a myriad of ways.
Many people question if our current education system is working. What do you think?
I too, question it. I have a lot of evidence that shows that it is not working. Many teachers quite after only 5 years for many reasons; low pay, no support from administrators, etc. This shows that there are issues within the education system with its treatment of its teachers. So imagine what that does to the students under those teachers. However, there is a lot of work being done by some wonderful educators out there to help encourage new teachers, work with admins and legislators, and inspire students. While the current educational system isn’t where it needs to be, I do see valuable change happening.
What would you like to see being taught in our classrooms?
I want to see curriculum that changes. I want to see more organic lesson plans that address the needs and concerns of the educator’s current students. I want to see curriculum that is timeless, void of outdated concepts (taught through outdated ways). There is something to be said about teachers to work hard. It is often discouraged. But teachers that carefully consider their curriculum, update it, and/or change it each year show that they have the students in mind.
If you have been teaching less than five years, do you intend to stay in the profession? Explain your feelings.
I do intend to stay in the profession. I love teaching. I love interacting with my students and helping them become life-long learners and critical thinkers. The relationships that are built have helped inspire me to become a better teacher, and helped them to become invested in their own education. I have no desire to leave the classroom.
Share your proudest teacher moment.
It’s impossible to pick just one. But here is something that really sticks out to me. I teach poetry each year; slam poetry. And this last year I had a student who was very unengaged in my class. I’d spoken to him several times to help encourage him but he still was not invested in his learning. However, while teaching poetry I asked him to share what he wrote. He did, and it was wonderful, which I let him know (as did many of his classmates). From then on he started to really enjoy writing poetry. So much so that he started an Instagram page dedicated to his poetry. During this unit we have a slam contest. The class picks the best student-poem to compete against the other classes in that grade. This particular student was chosen and he did wonderfully. I was so proud to see his progression.
What is the most important message about teaching that you would like People to know?
Don’t become cynical. The education system somehow lends itself to cynical views. Teachers get stuck in a cycle of teaching the same thing and feeling constantly discouraged by their students. Avoid that negativity and find a place where you can feel uplifted and encouraged. For me it is through some of my colleagues, and through social media. Through Instagram specifically I have gotten to know many wonderful teachers around the world who have helped inspire me and collaborate with me in very really and significant ways.
How can parents and Educators work together to better to ensure children are successful?
Involvement! That is the biggest thing. If students have both their educators and parents working together to help them succeed they are much more likely to do well in school and after. It is a lot of work, but the results are worth it. Parents knowing what is going on in their students lives, getting involved in education, and having conversations about what they are learning can have significant effects on their performance and dedication in education.
What is the most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners?
Encourage their students to be invested in their education. I think the best way this can happen is to have a culture of learning within the school. When students routinely see their parents reading, for instance, students are more likely to read often themselves. This translates into all aspects of a child’s education. Parents should help them become invested through their own examples.
Who is most Inspirational Teacher you’ve had? Why?
I had an interesting experience through grade school where I never felt very encouraged by my teachers. I think a part of me wanted to become a good and well involved teacher because of these experiences. However, while at university I had several teachers that inspired me. One of which was Nathan Gorelick. Through his classes I was impressed with his ability to engage the students in powerful and relevant conversations. I became more involved in my own education and learned a great deal as to the applications of having an education in English.
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?
It depends on the week. Some weeks I spend 40 hours working (although that is quite rare), while others it can be 60 or even 70. There is always things to be done. Planning lessons, grading, redoing lessons, helping students, attending activities, running extra-curricular activities, helping out at sporting events, the list goes on and on. However, one thing that I feel is not often considered is the emotional aspect of teaching. It is truly a 24/7 job. As a teacher, you are constantly considering your students, thinking about how to help them, how to encourage them, how to build them up.
What do you think is a fair salary for teachers? Keep in mind the argument that celebrities make millions and teachers are always struggling?
Teachers don’t get the support they need. And this goes beyond just salary. One thing that could definitely help teachers stay with the career would be to have a livable wage. Right now, starting teachers (and through their first five years or so) do not make even close to a livable wage. A part of helping teachers feel respected is to provide that livable wage. Studies have shown that that starts at around $60,000 a year. That may be a place to start, at least. Taking into consideration the hours a teacher typically works, I feel that it should only go up from that base point.
Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?
Yes. Quite often. I think the biggest expense I’ve had to pay for is books. I have hundreds of books in my classroom, most of which I have paid for out of my own pocket. Then there’s always the pencils, pens, markers, etc. The school I work at, however, does provide a significant amount of supplies to the teachers. The funding provided by the legislation is the biggest lack, I find.
If you had a wish list of needs for your classroom what would the top three things be?
- Books. Books that the students can read and engage with.
- Chrome books. These would help so much in an English class.
- Writing untinsels. I wish I could express how often these need replaced.
If you’d like to help this Inspirational Educator fulfill some of his classroom needs, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org