What is my why? What brought me into education?
These are questions that I feel I should repeat to myself daily. I don’t spend enough time reflecting on my values about education. When I first thought about becoming a teacher, it was my sophomore year in college. My mom is a teacher, and while she is a huge role model in my life, I struggled at first with going into the same profession as her. I wanted to be different. But the truth is, deep down, I really liked the idea of being a teacher. It was something I knew about - the amount of time I had spent in school, the differences that teachers had or hadn’t made on my life, and first-hand observations of the amount of prep time that went into teaching from my mom’s perspective.
In school, I had been always been good student, good grades, followed the rules, respected my teachers. I wasn’t the loudest, and sometimes I felt looked-over by my teachers. When becoming a teacher myself, this became one of my core values - don’t look over any student. I want every student to enjoy school and know that if they need someone, they can always count on me. I want to know everyone’s name, who they are, and show that I know and respect them in my class. School is about so much more than academics. I don’t remember too much content from my high school English class, but I do remember the way the teacher connected with all of us.
As a teacher now, I never dread going to work. Do I hate waking up early in the morning - sometimes, but by the time I get to school I am ready to go. That’s how I know I am in the right profession. I’m sure everyone has had jobs throughout their lives where they really didn't enjoy going to work. I am fortunate enough that I get to work with kids and see the passion in their eyes when a project excites them, see them learn different lessons in life, and watch them grow to the adults they will become in the future.
Roadblocks are just challenges to overcome. When I think about some major challenges in education, the first thing that pops into my head is the ratio between class size and teacher. This is probably not the largest challenge by far, but I know it’s connected to a lot of different roadblocks and directly affects one of my goals as a teacher. I teach a 6-week long class of STEM to each grade level in my school (6-8). Having 32 students in my room is difficult. This affects my ability to get to know each student. I also teach a 9-week long elective class to each grade level. The average size of these classes is around 15. In smaller classes, I am able to sit with each student, spend a good amount of uninterrupted time with them, and really get to know who they are. It’s just not possible in a larger class.
Standards-based grading is a topic that continues to come up in education. We will be implementing it in our building within the next two years. I have no doubt that it is a great way to assess what a student learns. I also think in order to do it right, it takes time from the teacher, both to set up and to integrate into the classroom. Having smaller class sizes would mean having more time to spend looking at each individual student's’ assessments and actually having the time to create plans for improvement and enrichment. I realize class size is something that is not in my control, so I will have to find ways to think “inside of the box.” Any helpful solutions are welcome!