Inspirational Educator – Kate – The Sleepy Teacher

I am in my 14th year of teaching. I taught in Costa Rica for one year, and then in the states for the last 13 years. I have also worked with special needs students and did push in and pull out support prior to becoming a full-time teacher. (I also worked abroad in Germany, Sicily, and Greece).

Why did you choose to teach as a career?

I actually never saw myself as a teacher. I came from a long line of teachers, but still did not see myself going into it as a career. I remember going to a lit class (that was my major in college) and I had an epiphany. I just knew that teaching was the career path for me. I finished my “5th” year at CSUSM in 2002.

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

This is a hard one to answer, to be honest. I think that there are many things that are broken in education. Our new administration is placing candidates into high-ranking positions they are unqualified for which has the potential to negatively affect our students and their futures. Money is often misappropriated. That money should be used to better schools, lower class sizes, and support teachers. I could go on about what is not working in our schools, but I prefer to focus on what is positively taking place in our classrooms/schools.

I see dedicated teachers who work tirelessly to help students. Teachers working unpaid to better themselves to consistently learn and grow. I see teachers who still care about students and show up to their baseball games, dance recitals, etc. I see teachers who want to build relationships with students that go far beyond just the year that they are together. I see teachers that want to make a difference in each and every child’s life. I am so excited to see so many teachers collaborating in real life and on social media. I have met some truly inspiring teachers through social media. I think that we collectively are putting out information that is helping other teachers.

If you have been teaching for over ten years, describe the changes you’ve seen in students and the teaching profession?

Teaching has definitely changed over the years. My goodness, where to begin. I think that one of the frustrating components of being a teacher is the amount of work that is being placed on teachers. Each year it seems as though more and more work is being placed on us. Class sizes continue to increase while the amount of support provided is decreasing. This comes back to a budgetary issue in most cases (but often times funds are misappropriated at the “top” so there are not enough resources at the “bottom”). Students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, etc, have also seemed to increase – especially in the last five years. In addition, there is an expectation that teachers are solely responsible for educating children vs. the village working with the students. The family dynamics and economic disadvantages have changed and often support cannot be provided to children at home. This sadly contributes to a lot of teacher burnout. When I started the statistic was if you made it past 7 years you were a lifer, the new statistic (so I have heard – I haven’t actually researched this) is 3 years.

Share your proudest teacher moment.

It’s hard to pick one after 14 years, but this may be my most recent and favorite one.

In the last few years, I have really loved to teach writing. I finally found my grove. I used to hate to teach writing as it was difficult and frustrating to get my students writing, but I decided a few years back that it would be my professional goal. I found as I started to love to teach writing that my students also started to love to write.

I use mentor text a lot with my students. I often talk about different writing strategies that author’s use and encourage my students to try it in their own writing.

On to the moment… my students had to write a different ending to a familiar story – The Emperor’s New Clothes. After my students finished their writing, I conferenced with each child to see how they did. One of my students wrote the most amazing ending. It was clever and witty and exactly on target for the goal. I asked him what inspired him and he said that my suggestion helped his ideas take off like a rocket.

To be honest, I am most proud of any student who shows up and tries their hardest in school. Those are the students that come and work hard and participate in class. When given the opportunity for a challenge they always jump on board.

Also, any child that says, “I get it!” and means it is a pretty amazing feeling.

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

Teaching is a profession that you have a calling for – it is something that people are born a to do. It is not something to enter into lightly. Higher stakes and stronger demands are part of your everyday life as a teacher.

You will need patience, strength of mind, ability to think on the spot and multitask. Some days will be hard, some will be harder, but most days will be amazing. Remember your days will never go as planned. Embrace the chaos because you are the creator of your mood. You choose which color you want to paint your world.

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

Open Dialogue is essential. Going to the teacher first (and vice versa) is vital to building relationships with your parents. You want to make sure that you are on the same team. Often Times lack of communication leads to miscommunications. Always assume best intentions because at the end of the day we all want what is best for our students/children. Remember that supporting children at home is vital to making the year successful. Checking that students are completing things that are important to the class (homework, projects, etc.) is invaluable.

How many hours a week do you spend completing all of your duties related to your job.

-Work Hours = 40 Hours (about)

-Meetings = 3 + hours a week

-Planning / Classroom = 5 – 10 hours

-Grading = 5 – 10 hours a week

There are so many little things that add up. I am just going to make a rough estimate based on a “traditional week.” Overall I would say about 60 + hours a week (beginning or the end of the year are more)

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

Depends on where you live, but for California teachers, I think a fair starting salary should be making at least 60k to start. I think that middle of the road teachers with some education but not a master’s degree) should be making about 75k. Teachers with lots of education and 15 years experience should be making about 95 – 100K.

Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?

When I first started teaching I spent a lot of money out of pocket on supplies for my students as well. I wanted to offer my students everything. I also spent money out of pocket on supplies for my students as well. Over my 14 years of teaching, I would say I have spent about 20 – 25 k out of pocket in my classroom and providing for my students.

Over the years I have accumulated many items in my room. I’ve learned to spend money on items that I really need and make a lot of my own materials rather than spending out of pocket. I do get a nice classroom budget and so with that principle in mind, I rarely spend out of pocket unless I am getting reimbursed.

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

-technology

-State of the art campus

-Books (lots of books)

-Access to any app with classroom licenses.

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