I have both a Special Education degree and an Elementary Education degree from Westminster College. Though I have many memorable moments in my preservice years, there are a few that bring light to who I am as a person. I remember being placed in both a preschool setting as well as a special education preschool setting during college, and it was in both of these placements where I realized the importance of hands-on, kinesthetic learning. I adored the inquiry-based learning and project based learning I was able to facilitate during this placement, and it made me yearn to do the same with my future students one day. Ironically, I completed my student teaching in a third grade classroom where I was able to put my creativity to good use and third grade happens to be where I currently dwell as an educator.
It was undoubtedly my seventh grade math teacher that played a major role in my want to become an educator. Math was always a subject where I struggled, and this particular teacher took many moments out of his day to work with me and truly understand what was going on with my learning. He was invested in me as a student but most importantly as a person. It was in his class where I received my A in mathematics and this was a huge turning point in regards to my confidence. I immediately knew during this year that I wanted to help students in the same way my 7th grade math teacher helped me. Most importantly, I wanted my students to make sure they felt valued and proud of themselves.
I have had multiple roles within the sphere of education. I was a PCA substitute for a bit as well as a building substitute. In addition, I have had some experience teaching Kindergarten students as well. Currently I am a third grade educator, and I truly love where I have landed. Third grade is a beautiful mixture of both maturity but also childhood innocence. My students are intrigued and curious about all sorts of topics, and they are also incredibly motivated to do their best and be their best.
I believe I am still in the field because I relish in the spontaneity of the kids and their attitudes. Their personalities are what encourage me to get out of bed every day with the burning desire to do better. Every single day is unique. I love spending time individually getting to know each and every one of my students as people and then watching them blossom throughout the year. The growth from the beginning to the end of third grade is astounding. Watching my students develop some of life’s most important skills also helps to solidify my desire to stay in the field. I believe the most important skill for a child to learn is teamwork. I have many students who walk into my classroom and wish to consistently work independently. Though independence is important, so is learning to develop as a member of a community, actively listen to the ideas of others and collaborate on projects to foster patience and critical thinking skills. These skills are the building blocks for success later on in life. Arguably, they are sometimes more important than academics.
I think widespread Inclusivity and diversity is something we all struggle with at times. Highlighting differences and celebrating those differences is important. I think adopting diverse trade books and using authentic literature to teach reading would help to create a more inclusive environment centered around diverse topics and celebrate varying identities. I also think teachers need to constantly self-reflect and thoughtfully listen to the concerns of their students. Entering the classroom with a willingness to make mistakes, learn and identify one’s own biases is essential in becoming a more inclusive educator.
Schools where learning and laughter are heard from the hallways. As I mentioned before, I really enjoy project-based learning assignments that cause students to work together to complete a task. My hope for the future is the utilization of more opportunities to hear the students learn, rather than just showing the students learning. Hearing the students learn provides them with motivation to do their best, and it motivates the teacher to enhance their own strategies to maintain the excitement for learning.