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Teacher Appreciation Week: Doing More than Expected

Teachers impact the lives of students everyday. In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked some of our Teacher Champions to take a moment to reflect on their unique experiences in the classroom and share their thoughts.

Here’s what Delaware first and second grade special education teacher Stephanie Morrison shared:

stephanie-morrisonWhy did you become a teacher?
Everyone seems to have a teacher that connected to them, someone they will never forget. I became a teacher because I never had a teacher that truly made a connection with me in my own life and took the time to focus on me as an individual. Don’t get me wrong, I had good, well-educated teachers, but I had textbook teachers and it was never anything beyond that for me. I wanted my teachers to connect with me, like they did to many students around me. My experiences as a student and the impact my students have on me contribute to my teaching philosophy, which continues to evolve. I believe, and stand by the philosophy that all students deserve a teacher that presents high expectations and makes them feel confident enough to realize their full potential.

What advice would you give to the first-year-of-teaching version of yourself?
My advice for a first-year-of-teaching version of myself would be to remember that in order for children to realize their greatest potential, they need to feel valued. The foundation of a strong classroom relies on how students feel when they are there.  Every morning when a student walks into my classroom, I want them to know I am truly happy they are here.  Students should always feel accepted and appreciated in an environment that is welcoming, conducive to learning and fits the needs of the individual.  A person who feels valued and appreciated will always do more than is expected.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superpower it would be the power to allow everyone to feel acceptance in our communities and around the word. In the world we live in today, many individuals are isolated for their opinions, unique abilities, and physical differences that may look different from another person’s. It is important to create more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

 

Here’s what Ohio middle school English language arts teacher Tricia Ebner shared:

Tricia and Rich at St. Mary's Lake

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superpower, it would be to add hours in the day for those days when I need extra time. Okay, I’ll be honest: I’d be adding hours every single day.

What advice would you give to the first-year-of-teaching version of yourself?
If I could give my first-year self some advice, it would be this:

1. Take a deep breath. Students don’t need you to be perfect. They need you to listen, guide, encourage, and support.

2. Take time away from teaching. It’s important to recharge.

3. Be in the moment. When the kids say something funny, laugh at it. Enjoy it. Take time to celebrate with them.

Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I love kids, seeing them learn, and helping them along that path. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I am so glad I didn’t change my mind.

 

Here’s what Tennessee elementary reading and math intervention classes teacher Rachel Cornett shared:

rachel-cornettIf you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love the ability to become invisible- invisibility cloak from Harry Potter, anyone?! I want to be able to hear what my students say about school and their learning when I am not around. Although some of that information gets back to the teachers anyway!

Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
My favorite teacher is my high school “careers with children” teacher, Miss Kathy. She gave me such a great pedagogical foundation for entering the teaching profession and was extremely dedicated to her students. Miss Kathy has remained my mentor and friend through the years. Next month we will travel to NYC together to catch some Broadway shows, check out the museums, and shop!

Tell a story about the funniest thing that’s happened to you in the classroom.
Hilarious things happen daily at an elementary school. Today I overheard students debating in the puppet theater center whether the bearded puppet was a girl or a boy. “Girls can have beards, too, ya know! We can do anything we want if we put our minds to it.” Haha! Right on!

What advice would you give to the first-year-of-teaching version of yourself?
Don’t worry, you’ll get there. You will! You can’t do it all your first year.

Why did you become a teacher?
My mom was a middle school educator, so teaching already ran in my genes. I remember being in kindergarten thinking, “I want to do this the rest of my life. I want stay in a classroom having fun while learning.” That is what I said, and that is what I did!

 

Here’s what Michigan director of innovation in teaching and learning Matt McCullough shared:

matt-mcculloughTell a story about the funniest thing that’s happened to you in the classroom.
In my first year of teaching, I had a tough class that I needed to teach about the Alamo.  I decided to teach it by fighting the battle of the Alamo with paper wads, and we tipped over desks and chairs while setting up the students for a historically appropriate outcome.  That was the day my principal and the district social studies curriculum director decided to do an impromptu drop-in and were immediately pegged with paper wads.  Luckily, my students immediately incorporated them into the battle explaining the imbalance of numbers, the reasons the Alamo was falling and the historical premise…and this is why I’m an educator today.  I LOVE coming up with crazy ways to engage and motivate students into learning while having fun.  I sometimes feel like this is my superpower; the ability to simplify learning while keeping it fun – almost tricking the learners into understanding new concepts!  Watching the light bulb go on still excites me daily whether I am working with students, teachers, or administrators.

 

Here’s what Arizona fifth grade English language arts and social studies teacher Beth Maloney shared:

beth-maloneyWho was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
My favorite teacher growing up was Mr. Maholik, my high school Geometry and Algebra II teacher. This was not because I loved his teaching subjects, in fact, at that time in my life, I hated math because I thought it was too hard for me. My mental block toward math felt insurmountable. Mr. Maholik believed in me when I didn’t have the courage to believe in myself. He also took the time to tutor me in his off hours until I had the skills I needed to be successful. His belief in me and the generosity of his time will never be forgotten.

What advice would you give to the first-year-of-teaching version of yourself?
If I could give advice to the first-year-teacher-version of myself, I would tell her to teach students, not objectives or curriculum.  Your students will be your best teachers. You must listen to them to find teachable moments. Learn together – you’ll have more fun that way, too.

Tell a story about the funniest thing that’s happened to you in the classroom.
The funniest thing that happened in my classroom this year was the moment when I had all 33 students mesmerized…not by my amazing lesson, hilarious joke or fascinating story.  They couldn’t take their eyes off me as they marveled at how I managed to refill empty glue bottles from a gallon sized jug without spilling a drop!  Ah, the skills you master as a 17-year veteran teacher.

Many teachers make a difference in the lives of kids. Join us in celebrating them throughout this week.

Click here to see the teachers featured yesterday!