So, one of my prior students interviewed me for a college paper this morning, and I thought I would share it with you. I'm always so honored when these interviews happen, but this kid in particular touched my heart.
What made you choose this profession?I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a very little girl. I actually had a rolling chalkboard in my bedroom and would teach my stuffed animals (I was like 6). it was pretty cute. Anyway, I initially wanted to teach math - until it got too hard in high school LOL! Then I switched and actually majored for two years in history, but I found I was doing much better in my English classes, so I switched majors. I have a BA in English-Creative Writing. After college I moved and needed a job, so I went to the Hinesville District Office and asked, 'What do I need to do be a teacher?" After that, I was on the path I'm still on. Ultimately, this may sound cheesy, but I've always wanted to make a difference in people's lives. Sitting in an office has always seemed so boring and lonely. Every time I watched a teaching movie like Stand and Deliver, Lean on Me, Dangerous Minds, etc. I connected with those teachers and wanted to be them. It kept me going until I became a teacher.
What motivated/motivates you to get up every morning and deal with thick-headed kids everyday?The sad truth is that I realized early on in my career that there are A LOT of kids whose parents are not involved in their lives. There are very little words of encouragement or even assistance with homework. Those "thick-headed kids" are typically the ones who need the encouragement the most. I strive to be the person who fills that gap for them making them see that they are capable, intelligent, young people who have an entire life ahead of them. They can't let their parents or anyone else dictate their future, but an education can be the much needed out, so to speak. Also, it makes me truly happy to see the light turn on for them. When a kid comes in hating English and leaves having learned something and liked it, I feel like I've done my job. (It worked on you, right?) :)
How you deal with problems that occur?Problems naturally occur in any job, and in life. I take it one step at a time starting with the most crucial element first. If it's discipline, I start by talking to the student. If that doesn't work, I move to the parents. It that doesn't work, I have to go to administration. The same applies with coworkers. I try to deal with it head on rather than dwell and let it fester. I don't do well when I'm under too much emotional stress, and I tend to take EVERYTHING to heart. If I deal with it, then I can move forward, but when I don't deal with it, I tend to shut down. That never ends well hurting me more than anyone else.
And how, well at least I find that you're pretty inspiring, what I'm asking is like, how do you do it? Do you plan to chew us out and get our asses on track? Stuff like that.Well, first of all thank you for finding me inspiring. You're pretty inspiring too. But how do I do it? Hmmm.. Formally speaking, I incorporate the three R's: Rigor, Relevance, Relationship.
Rigor- I try to push my students to create more than they imagined they could. I give a lot of work, but make it fun in the process. I really step up the rigor by incorporating more higher level thinking skills, meaning making you analyze and think.
Relevance - I have found that when kids can apply what we are doing to their lives, there's more retention of the material and more buy in. When kids don't know WHY we read something or discuss something, they check out.
Relationship - this is a big one for me. I think it's important for kids to feel safe in my classroom. I start by prefacing with "don't tell me anything you don't want your parents or police to know" because by law I have to report abuse of any kind. Once that is understood, kids need to know I care. Ultimately, if a kid knows there is someone in their corner, they're more likely to perform academically for fear of letting me down. I like that. I like to see them trust me and know that I will always cheer them on.
I don't plan the "ass chewing", but sometimes kids need tough love, and that means telling the truth. If you didn't do well on an essay, why should I tell you it was good? What would you learn from that? If you're not doing your work, then you deserve the F you have earned. I have no problem pointing out that my job isn't to give you grades...you have to earn them. I also have no problem reminding kids that I'm not their friend, I'm the teacher. If we become friends in the end, that's grade, but my job is to teach and that's what feeds my own children.
Other than that, there's not much more to it. I come to work everyday, not really knowing what to expect. I take it in stride. I hope I answered everything you needed, but if you need more, let me know.