My class last year, and this. I'm going to to third grade with them.
A Few Answers From a Recent-ish Teacher Interview
How long and what have you taught?
I've taught seven years in fourth grade, six in second, and am about to begin my second year of third grade.
What drew you to a teaching career?
I had a decade in another career first. I told people who questioned the pay cut, “I made money. Now I want to make a difference.” That’s really why. I want to impact lives and make our world better, one child at a time. Think about it. Every President of the United States once had a second grade teacher. That could be me. Just think what flames my passions might ignite! I can't think of a better way to spend a life.
What did you expect teaching to be like?
I don’t know that I had particular expectations as I was already 31 when I began. I was old enough to know I can't see around corners. But I certainly didn’t expect how very hard and all-consuming teaching is.
Was it different from what you expected? In what ways?
This job is hard, hard, hard! The finish line constantly changes and you are continually asked to do and be and accomplish more. You are judged on the performance of students who may have come to you completely unprepared or may have things going on in their brains, or bodies, or at home that we can barely imagine. If you don’t utterly love teaching, forget it. Teaching is the hardest, most rewarding thing you will ever do, aside from raising your own children. You can’t beat it, if you have a heart for it. But, you should never, ever count on it being easy. And, “summers off”? Yeah right.
Did you feel as if you were "prepared" for your first year of teaching?
Not really . I don’t actually think you can be. Like most things, you just have to learn by doing. A good student teaching experience can begin to prepare you, but there is still something about being the one ultimately responsible – it makes a difference.
How much energy do you expend in teaching?An average week is about 55-60 hours of work. The actual work day requires a lot of energy, too. But, for me, the kids are energy givers, so I don’t find that difficult at all. I just love what I do.
Was there ever a time you almost left the teaching profession?No. This is my God-given skill and passion. Teaching is my calling. It’s who I am. If I had a fortune, I would still teach. The only real difference in my life would be the hiring of a housekeeper. There have, however, been a few times when I took a mental health day. And, believe me, I really, really needed it.
What do you think is the single most important factor in creating a positive learning environment?
Passion, compassion, love, knowledge, hard, hard work…
OK. That’s not one. Hmmm…. Love. If you love your students – really unselfishly love them – it radiates from you and warms all you do. And they learn. They learn to love you back, to love their peers, how to treat each other, how to act with compassion, how to work hard, how to be responsible. But, love comes first. It all springs from love.
Happy back to school everyone. Are you ready?