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Q: What made you want to become a teacher?
A: I’m not exactly sure I can pin point any particular instance where I said I want to become a teacher. Ever since I was in high school I was always involved in activities that involved mentoring or helping other people in athletics or academically. I wasn’t the number one student in my class but I always knew helping people went way beyond knowledge and relied more on how well a person can communicate with someone else. As I went through college I was exploring different avenues from pre-med to business and it felt kind of “plastic” to me. Those careers would certainly provide financial stability but I couldn’t see myself working in an office all day or having long hours with repetitious work. I enjoyed studying history and ultimately decided my knowledge and ability to creatively relate to people might be something useful in education. After my years at The Adirondack School I knew this is what I wanted to do and could be successful at and began to plot a journey to go into graduate school for education. It’s been a longer road than some take but I am glad I took the scenic route because I am certain I am able to help students succeed in the classroom and influence them in ways to develop character, confidence, and citizenship.
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
A: I am going to try and stay away from the generic answers here. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate being an influential person in the lives of students. I also won’t say I don’t enjoy the schedule either! There’s a saying that if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life. Teaching definitely fits this category for me. If I had to narrow it down to one thing it would probably be the fact that every single day is different. I’ve had jobs where every day I have new tasks to do, but it’s so similar and there were few surprises. I’ve also had jobs where I’ve done the same thing every day, over and over and over and over… those were the worst even if they were the easiest. Every day in my classroom something or someone will surprise me. I always get to look forward to whatever is next and the constant development of my curriculum favors my personality. I am a goal driven person and can be competitive even if that means the only challenger is myself; by this I mean I want to constantly find better ways of doing things. So in sum, the fact that there is no finish line in teaching for me is what I love the most.
Q: What age group do you like the most?
A: Every age group has its own qualities. As a teacher my personality is driven to areas where I can contribute to the growth and success of others. I will be honest and say any group below the 5th grade level kind of scares me – that’s why I focused on 7-12 and will work on my 5-6 extensions soon. I have subbed in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms and have learned it’s not so bad. Younger kids are fun and automatically look up to you. Teenagers are so different from one another yet they are very similar inside. It’s been interesting to work with so many age groups in my career and while subbing because you can see how teenagers progress – it makes me reflect on my own high school experiences especially when I am in my home district with teachers I once had. My student teaching experiences with 7th and 11th graders were both extremely enjoyable. I loved being a part of the tail end of students’ academic journeys and a voice of influence in their important decisions. I also enjoyed the 7th graders energy levels and their willingness to openly let you know how much they liked me as a teacher! They really made me feel important every day and it provided a lot of motivation. Overall, schools are a community and I enjoy being involved with them all even if I do not directly teach a class at a specific level. Extra curricular opportunities provide me with a lot of chances to meet everyone.
Q: What is your opinion on the current state of education?
A: This is a tough question I run into a lot. Whenever I tell someone I am aspiring to be a teacher and find a permanent career they always ask “why?” because of what they’ve heard, seen, or read on the news. In my opinion it is in a delicate space right now. I am worried mostly that people are not seeing public education for all it is worth. Aside from the educational knowledge gained there is a tremendous amount of social skills developed within the walls students spend over 12,500 hours in by the time they graduate. The media and politicians have seemingly caused a great divide between public and private, teachers and parents, and student needs versus student wants. In a way, it’s become overly complicated when the efforts should be to simply do what is best for the students. Common sense actions need to return to education. If something is working, keep it. If something is not working, revisit it or try something new. Public and government funding needs to go to places that need it most and everyone, including students themselves, need to be more accountable for their academic success. Free and public education is a gift and privilege some people around the world will never know. We all need to remember that and take advantage of the opportunities schools provide us.
Q: How much time do you spend managing your website?
A: I just started this particular site about six months ago during graduate school. Before I owned ilovesocialstudies.com I was using a free hosting site to run a “wiki.” I managed that website for many years during my experience at The Adirondack School and I believe it helped a lot of my students who really liked the chance to learn at their own pace outside of the classroom or have the material to review 24/7. The free sites limit you so I decided to start this project and am still in the process of moving items onto the pages.
Overall, I spent about 25 hours a week creating it and I have slowed down a bit and only spend about 10 hours a week because I am busy subbing every day and it’s fishing season! There is a long road ahead as I’ve made over 100 pages so far! If it’s helping students, it’s worth my time and I enjoy pushing my own development as a teacher too.