How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 13 years.
Why did you choose a teaching career?
The way I came into this career is a little non-traditional. I have a degree in International Agriculture and Economics and was working in the banking industry. As I transitioned into the role of being a mom, I didn’t feel that my career allowed me to spend as much time with my kids as I wanted. Teaching seemed like a natural fit, as I spent hours in my mom’s classroom growing up and I subbed in college part time. I hired on as a Second Grade teacher in Polk County, Florida with an emergency license. I walked into an empty classroom that summer (the classroom literally had nothing but desks) and started my education courses at the same time. I finished my coursework within two years and, at that point, already had loads of experience under my belt! I enjoyed working with the families and each year brought new challenges.
Many people question if our current education system is working. What do you think?
Our current education system is an evolution based on trends in our lifestyle and society. The things we do…what we teach and how we teach it, whether mandated or not, are things that have been developed based on current issues. They are based on what the school aged population is struggling with, what they aren’t struggling with, technology, what the jobs of the future are, how our society is changing, etc. We do what we do to try and meet the needs of students as best as we can with our available resources. That equates to an education system that is constantly changing…and that can be positive and negative. Some concepts will work, some won’t, but the constant in education is change. Is it working? There are so many factors that go into making it seem as if another country’s education system is more successful than ours. Many countries spend much more on education than we do. Many societies hold school and education at a much higher level of importance than our society does. Many education systems don’t accept disabled children…or expel children who disrupt learning. All of these things may make it seem as if another system is more successful than ours. However, I believe that we are doing everything we can to prepare children to be successful global citizens.
What would you like to see being taught in our classrooms?
There are a couple concepts I think we should integrate into our classrooms. As I think about the evolution of technology in our children’s lives, I feel that they should be taught how to communicate appropriately through technology. Although we reminisce about sending a stamped letter through the mail and cursive handwriting, that isn’t the reality of the next generation. It is important for them to be aware of those things, but that is what they will soon be studying in history class. We should be looking at the different ways we communicate and work through technology while teaching our students how to be successful, respectful, and involved in these technological advances.
Another concept I would love to see in the classroom is the integration of our state or regional heritage and culture. We study our state’s history, but we don’t really dig deeply into why the culture and history should be important to us. As I think about all of the upheaval over the last few years in regards to our mining industry and how it has affected every aspect of our economy, I feel that it is important for our students to learn about why these things are important to our state. Along with our history, they should leave our schools with a very comprehensive understanding of why mining, tourism, recreation, and conservation is important to the economy of our state. As they journey through life and hopefully come back to this beautiful region, they will be the decision makers that pass laws and make decisions, which will end up affecting everyone who lives here. And, seeing as I plan on living here for the next 60 or so years – give or take a decade – I want those decision makers to be educated on our culture, community, economy, and ecology…not politicians who make decisions about our region based on their perceptions. It is a bit of a selfish desire, as I’d love to be able to continue to fly fish and enjoy nature, while still enjoying a stable economy during my retirement. Besides that, it encourages the students to become involved in local issues and understand how those issues affect others nationally and sometimes even globally. It is a concept that can be applied throughout math, literacy, science, and history.
If you have been teaching for over ten years, describe the changes you’ve seen in students and the teaching profession?
There are changes in the students and profession on a yearly basis! Over the last 13 years, I have noticed that students have become less accountable for their learning. It seems that if a student doesn’t perform, there is a lot more finger pointing at the school and teachers and less reflection of the student. This worries me as to what kind of employees we are creating for our society. Students seem to see teachers as more of “friends” and less of an authority figure. Each year it becomes more difficult to manage the social aspect of the classroom and create that respectful relationship between teacher and student. However, it does allow us to more easily see the student’s unique character and personality, which is part of what make our job so enjoyable!
Every year the profession seems to change. I think the biggest change is testing and paperwork. It is never ending! However, we do gain valuable insight about student progress and data to help direct our teaching.
Share your proudest teacher moment.
A couple years into my teaching, I had a student who was being raised by his grandma. During his First Grade year, he spent loads of time in detention and even expelled for his poor behavior choices. The last week of school, he was expelled for writing F*** Y** on the P.E. court in Sharpie marker. When I saw him on my class list, I was instantly racking my brain for interventions or behavior plans I might try to help both of us survive his Second Grade year. Was I ever nervous! Then…school started. And we just clicked. He didn’t need behavior plans or interventions. He needed attention and love. He needed someone to look at him while he was talking. He needed someone to listen to his ideas. Yes, he still got into trouble from time to time. But I enjoyed the heck out of that kid that year. He was a good kid. And, at the end of the year, he earned the “Yes Sir” award. An award reserved for the most respectful student in the school. Out of nearly1,000 students….he won the “Yes Sir” award. Ten years later, I still have a picture of him and I hanging behind my desk with that award.
What is the most important message about teaching that you would like People to know?
The most important message I would like people to know about teaching is that we are doing our very best. And we aren’t just feeding you a line. We spend every day with your child. We want them to succeed just as much, if not more, than you do. We truly care for your child – when they are disappointed, so are we. When they feel success, so do we. And, regardless of how smoothly or rocky the year goes, we still miss them when they leave at the end of the year.
How can parents and Educators work together to better to ensure children are successful?
The most important thing parents and educators can do to ensure their children are successful is communicate. Whether it is positive or negative, communication is key!
What is the most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners?
The most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners is the gift of literacy. We hear it all the time, but READ. Let them read to you, let them hear you read to them, listening, hearing, interacting. It is the foundation of learning!
Who is most Inspirational Teacher you’ve had? Why?
The most inspirational teacher I had was my biology teacher in Junior High. I am not crazy about Science. It is hard…and I just can’t get into it. But he loved it. It taught me that it is important to do what you are passionate about and what you love. I can’t remember much from that class…but I remember him and being interested in whatever it was he was doing, because he loved it so much.
How many hours a week do you spend completing all of your duties related to your job?
re there any extra duties that people may find surprising or not consider that you have to complete? I spend about 50 hours per week between being in the classroom, taking work home, or working after hours. I also teach a class to help teachers learn about, understand, and dissect the National Board certification process for three hours each Monday night. Extra duties include lunch duty – monitoring the lunchroom during my lunch break, and recess duty – which really isn’t too bad until winter, it is nice to get out of the building during the day! About once a year, I need to take a class to keep up with my certification, which is paid for out of pocket.
What do you think is a fair salary for teachers? Keep
Fair teacher salary? Well, seeing as I’m a teacher, I’d say maybe seven figures would work nicely…ha ha! If someone enters a career for the money rather than their passion, they likely won’t be successful or stick with it. However, there are interesting statistics that link higher teacher salary with increased student success. So….hmmmm….
Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?
If you had a wish list of needs for your classroom what would they be
1. A school garden. Because of our climate, this would require a cold frame greenhouse. As well as funds to purchase vegetable seeds/starts, bedding, and construction materials. Students would use the garden to understand nutrition, apply math and literacy concepts, responsibility, and working together. Funds to pay a high school student to manage the garden would also be helpful. This would be a process in which the student would have to interview and manage every aspect of running the “business” including assigning gardening responsibilities to the younger students.
2. A class set of Microsoft Surface Pro or Apple Pro tablets. The collaboration available to students and teachers through this technology is endless.
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