Cleveland Elementary School, 4th grade, Teacher for 22 years
Why did you become a teacher?
My whole family was in education. I liked school, I liked to play school when I was little. Once I got into college I was taking a lot of science classes, and they weren’t hitting it. An advisor suggested trying education, and it just stuck.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Carolyn Preston was my first grade teacher at LaSalle Elementary School. She was magnificent as a teacher. She was commanding and gentle at the same time. She was really tall. To me she was tall. And she had this beautiful hair which I wanted. I would go home and act like her. I wanted to be her!
Three adjectives that describe your job:
Fun, challenging, draining.
What is one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were a first year teacher?
Well, my mother actually told me two weeks into my teaching, that I had to have order in my classroom before I could teach, and that my first job was to have my classroom be an orderly place, so that we could work. That helped because the first two weeks were horrible. It got better after that because I kept that in mind and did what my mother told me to do.
What's one thing your students have taught you about being a better teacher?
Oh my goodness, so many things. My children have taught me to be humble, and to play.
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.
Wow. I won’t pick the first question because I expect my students to do anything they want to do, so I am never surprised when they do it. But I did have a student about ten years ago, in the third grade, a tiny little thing who was always picked on by other people. She was always picked last on the teams in PE. She was one of those gray area children, people don’t notice them.
One day she was writing in her journal, and she decided to write about all the mean things that had happened to her. She enumerated all of the things she didn’t like, and asked if she could read it out loud. She read it, and looked at each child and said their names and named what each had done to her, even if they hadn’t realized what they had done. She floored everyone. By the time she finished, everybody was crying. From that point on, they were much more aware of their actions not just around her, but around everyone. It was nice. It was a good thing to her because it helped her to grow up and speak her mind, and it was good for the other children because it helped them to know they were not the only ones on the planet.
Why is teaching an incredibly important job?
If we didn’t have teachers, well, we wouldn’t have anybody being anything else. We all have to learn from someone.
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