1. What motivated you to become an educator?
I want to be an educator to share my passion for literature. Also, I genuinely care about the success of others, and want to help them succeed. In my opinion, providing knowledge and sharing literature are the most important tools for success in life. With knowledge, we are able to pursue the many different avenues in life and careers. What motivates me to be an educator is for the “ah-ha” moment. It’s that moment where a student makes the connection, and completely understands the lesson I am teaching.
2. Can you share a teaching moment of which you are particularly proud?
Many years ago I had a particular student who thought poetry was useless and made no sense to him. He felt it was a waste of his time. Then, we did a poetry unit; we read poems and discussed them and analyzed them. At the end of the unit, I had the class sit outside with their eyes closed and just listen. They then wrote their own poem based on what they heard and felt. The young man's poem was beautifully written and so very in tune with nature. We talked about the experience, and he said how he had come to view poetry in a totally different way. Those moments stay with a teacher a lifetime.
3. What changes have you seen develop over your career in the education field?
Honestly, there really aren't that many changes besides the focus on a Common Core and preparing the students to pass a standardized test. The way teachers teach and present information basically has stayed the same, just the "names" of the methodology have changed. We have gone from lecture and question and answering to direct instruction, the I do, we do, you do, and the Socratic method. We have gone from thick and thin questioning to the new Bloom's taxonomy and higher order thinking. It's just a change in terminology. We still focus on preparing students for the next level in their education and for the real world. Also, we now adapt teaching to different student characteristics by using diverse methods of teaching. When I first started teaching, special education was conducted within its own self-contained classroom, and students did not have to score basic or proficient.
4. Have you personally noticed any systematic issues which limit or enhance learning in your classroom?
A few years ago, trying to adapt my teaching style to follow the "style of the month", I struggled to conform and felt I lost my way. I know I lost my passion for sharing the life-lesson literature has to offer. I was trying to conform in order to get my students to pass the standardized test. It just didn't work. My students did no better nor no worse, and the classroom environment lost its excitement.
5. In your own words, why is receiving an education important?
Education really isn't about solving mathematical equations or learning flawless speaking and writing of the language. It's about resourcefulness and problem-solving. Education gives us power and makes us capable of interpreting things rightly and applying the gathered information in real life scenarios.
6. What would you say to a student who has become disengaged with their education?
What I'd really like to say is get a clue...on the inside. Yet, I would ask why. Actually, I would probably badger incessantly, but I might start with..."Why don't you see the need to learn? If you give up on learning now, what will you do in the future? Education is a life-long experience and the second you stop learning, you stop living, truly."
Please share your reactions to these experiences of an educator.