Even on the days when there are a million deadlines and I want to pull my hair out, a student will say something sweet or funny and it’s like the sun comes out in my classroom and nothing else matters. I love that. I also love it when I see my class acting like a community, supporting each other, and being kind to each other. The biggest challenge right now is the increased demands on students and teachers. I find it’s [so] easy to get caught up in standards, rubrics, and assessments, that you can sometimes forget why you became a teacher in the first place.
Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year.
We wanted to take the students on a field trip to help immerse them in colonial life—a culture they learned about this year. The students wanted to go to Old Bethpage Village on Long Island, but the high cost of the trip became an obstacle, so we held a fundraiser to make it more affordable. We decided on Spirit Week, during which students would donate change to participate in different events. The end of the week boasted Wrap Your Teacher in Toilet Paper Day and Pie in the Face Day, during which students paid money to throw pies at teachers. We got the entire staff involved in our efforts and raised enough money for the trip to be completely free.
Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date?
When I taught fifth grade, I created a science unit in which students learned about climate change and different options for energy. Students researched a topic and presented their ideas at a science fair. Now, an entirely new group of fifth grade teachers have continued to implement and grow this curriculum.
What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?
The main thing that keeps me motivated is the children. I love that “aha!” moment when a kid who came in hating reading suddenly can’t get enough of reading aloud. Or the student who says she wants to be a teacher because I make it look fun. Those moments make it all worth it.
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