Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why Teaching and Other Fun Facts

I was asked by a staff member in the School of Education to answer some questions for a potential Faces of the School of Education article on the website. I haven't been added to the site yet, but I happened to re-read my answers for the various questions today. If I do say so myself, they're quite impressive! Especially as I had quickly answered them in five minutes between rounds of Candy Crush Saga.

Below are a few of the questions and my answers:

What made you want to become an English teacher?
I always had a love for books. I spent my childhood at the public library and spent my allowances mostly on books. I knew that books, reading, and literature had to be a major aspect of my future career. I went through possibilities, such as being a librarian, or working in publishing, but I knew that a desk job wasn’t for me and I wanted to truly help people. That left teaching.

You’re also very involved in writing—you work at the Writing Center, you’re the Managing Editor of Vox Arts and Literary Magazine.  Can you speak a little about what writing means to you? Why do you think this is a valuable skill, and how will you emphasize that with your students?
It’s not that I love writing for myself per say. It’s more that I love books and reading so much that I truly appreciate the art of their creation. Writing is important to me because it gives me things to read, explore, and learn from. Sure at some point I dreamed of being an author because I wanted to make others feel the same way I did when I read a really great book, but at this stage in my life I’m perfectly content to allow others to produce amazing work for me to curl up in bed with and read.  Authors write from their lives and experiences. I will encourage my students to write simply because I want them to believe that their stories, too, are worth being read by others. It will also allow me to get a glimpse of their genius and their spirit while giving me fascinating material to read. What could be better than that?

How has your experience been with the School of Education?
It’s so difficult to describe my experience at the School of Education, but these are some of the words I would use to begin to do so—eye-opening, gut-wrenching, soul-searching, nerve-wracking, exciting, profound, hair-pulling, exhilarating, happiness, comfortable, closeness, and family

As you have been a student, have you developed a sort of teaching mission/philosophy? How has your approach/mindset to teaching evolved since you've been at Pace and have developed as an educator?
I wouldn’t know how my teaching mission/philosophy has changed, as I don’t know that I had one when I first entered the School of Education. However, I do know that I’ve learned over the past few years that there are particular aspects of teaching that I feel strongly about (either love ‘em or hate ‘em) that will strongly influence my teaching style, such as my love for literature and writing, getting to know my students as people, my resentment of standardized testing and assessment, my passion for dreams (both students’ and my own), social justice, and engaged learning. 

How have your classroom experiences been so far? Are you student teaching?
While I am not currently student teaching (will be doing my full-time student teaching in the Fall), my previous experiences at Sleepy Hollow Middle/High schools and P.S. 95 have cemented my resolve to be a caring and insightful teacher. Every experience has been valuable either by showing me a way to do something that works, or showing me something that doesn’t and that I must avoid. However, it’s the students that make it especially worthwhile each and every time.   

What has surprised you the most about teaching?
There’s no mold, no set rules, no one path. So, great teachers are the ones who create their own—molds, rules, and paths with the students always at the very center.

What do you see as the greatest challenge to the teaching profession? What is the greatest opportunity?
The greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity are that Education doesn’t comprise of just you and your students. There’s the administration, the state, parents, the community, teacher’s union etc and each has its own agenda and goals for the children in your classroom. It’s up to you to fight against opposing forces and with allies to make sure that students always get what they need—a solid education.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
As I aspire to teach Middle School English, I hope to still be teaching in five years and hearing about my former eighth graders graduating from High school and aiming for their dreams.

Thanks for reading,

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