Payne Elementary School, Pre-school Teacher for 25 years
Payne Elementary School, Pre-school Teacher | Photo by Jason Colston
Why did you become a teacher?
There are many reasons why I became a teacher, including the love I have for children, summer vacations, and the importance of the job and influence on others’ lives.
The most influential factor was the fact that most of my life I was surrounded by educators. My mother was a teacher. I had a first-hand look at the impact a teacher could have on others.
I was determined to follow in my mother’s footsteps, have a positive influence on students and be a teacher that students will remember for years to come.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Obviously my mother was one of my favorite teachers. Besides my mother I had many memorable teachers, but the one that sticks out the most in my mind was my middle school math teacher, Ms.Wilson.
She was caring and made learning fun. She would not hesitate to take us out to lunch, listen to us and go beyond the call of duty to get us to understand concepts.
She also made us laugh. Math was not one of my strong subjects, but Ms. Wilson found ways to get me interested in math and have the confidence to do it.
Three adjectives that describe your job:
Stimulating, challenging, significant.
What is one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were a first year teacher?
The educational courses prepared me for the academic part of teaching, but the things they failed to emphasize or tell us was to be flexible, creative, and most importantly, to make students feel important and valued.
Through trial and error I came to the realization that in teaching there isn’t one right way to teach. You have to be creative and find different ways to reach and motivate students.
Every day, every year is different and unexpected. One of my discoveries of being a successful teacher is to build trust and show students you genuinely care about them and the rest will follow.
What's one thing your students have taught you about being a better teacher?
My students taught me to be flexible and spontaneous when necessary. They taught me to prepare for the unexpected and make changes when needed. My lesson plans are not etched in stone.
It is important to use a plethora of strategies in teaching. My students also taught me that they have a voice, and that I should listen to them, have fun and enjoy the class.
Tell a little about a time when a student's accomplishments completely exceeded your expectations. Or, tell a little about a time when you were inspired by a student.
Observing the look on students' faces when they accomplish something inspires me. Hearing former students walk past my room and talking about the experience they had in my room, that inspires me.
One day a former student came into my room and said “Ms.Stokes, can you teach my grade?” Incidents like that inspire me to continue to provide a fun, safe environment where students can grow.
It gives me fuel to keep going and make a difference in other students’ lives. Also, watching students’ growth from the beginning of the year to the end is inspiring.
Why is teaching an incredibly important job?
Teachers are a very important part of students’ lives. Students spend most of their time in schools. We have a role in creating productive future citizens.
We provide students with a shoulder to cry on, a place where self esteem is built so they can have the confidence to do anything, and tools to be successful. My teachers had a part in making me who I am so I know they have a part in creating future doctors, lawyers, etc.
Teachers have a great impact and opportunity to create future productive citizens.
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