Why did you become a teacher?
I think the profession chose me. I became an educator because sharing and exchanging information with others always made me feel good inside. I am happy to connect with others and learn from them as they learn from me.
What is the funniest moment you’ve experienced as an educator?
Once, when I was helping a young child change clothes from a potty accident and trying to clean off their dirty parts, I became distracted, lost my grip on their underwear — and down the toilet they went. The expression of the child’s face is still with me today, decades later!
“Oh Boy! Is my mom going to get mad at you!” I remembered him saying. I apologized to the child over and over again, and got them a new pair to wear for the day. And, when I explained to his mother what happened she didn’t get mad, she just laughed.
How has the last year affected your students and your teaching approach?
Since the pandemic, my teaching has greatly expanded. I think many educators, including myself, are now able to reach children and students all over the world that we never thought was possible before because of the teaching tools and learning platforms available on the internet. The last 18 months have given me great insights as to how I can create more learning opportunities for myself and others.
What’s a creative solution you use to keep kids engaged or motivated during COVID?
If I take a few minutes and introduce myself as a person — not so much as their teacher — and share about some things I like to do or some other interests, children often do the same. I think establishing a friendly and welcoming learning environment really helps me and the child build a good rapport. I often incorporate learning opportunities that center around the child’s interests, and I find this has become a great way to keep the child engaged and interested to learn, even in a remote setting and even with a mask on.
What resources do you like to use in the classroom or in teaching remotely?
I work with young children primarily between the ages of 3-11, so I want to keep them as engaged as possible using hands-on activities — even in my remote teaching. However, I often share my screen when teaching remotely to show videos or other visuals to the students in my classes. I am also a National Geographic Certified Educator with access to a plethora of educational resources to provide my students with additional learning materials relevant to our lessons. Implementing these two resources has greatly added to the richness of my teaching content.
What is your experience with bullying in the classroom?
I do not participate in contests and give awards when conducting my classes because I feel it brings judgment and divides children from one another, potentially leading to bullying centered around comparisons. I want to encourage and foster a teaching climate of inclusiveness.
I see art-making as an individual’s way to express themselves, and I feel that it should not be judged by anyone to fit into various categories. I make it clear to everyone in my classes, all of the time, that art-making is an unique expression. Their own work of art will look different from mine, and from their friends because we are all different — we are unique.
Each child, each learner, creates something special in their own way and I do not feel anyone has the right to judge anyone on that.
How do you gauge if your students are succeeding?
I ask my students questions to gauge if they are understanding the material content and if they are remembering it. I will recap towards the end of our lesson and ask them as a review at the start of a new session. I ask my students to give me examples of the lesson topic, and ask them to share with me their work during different intervals of our sessions together.
All of these methods of observing and asking them questions help me to understand how they are interpreting my teaching, and provide me information if I need to make modifications so I can best set them up for future success.
What’s a fun thing students don’t know about you?
When I was a little girl I had two pet chickens. But I didn’t live on a farm, I lived in a beach community. I often had to walk over to the next block and knock on the [neighbor’s] front door to ask if I could pick up my chickens to bring them back home because they accidentally flew over the fence that we shared. I loved having these chickens as pets! I remember that every morning I would run outside in my backyard and look in all the special places they would like to go and roost just to say good morning to them!
What’s the one book you wish all students would read?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
What is your primary educational goal, and what are you most proud of as a teacher?
The number one goal I have is that each time I work with a student, I leave a positive imprint on them. My goals include that they had fun with me, that they enjoyed working with me, and that they continue to be curious, observing life and learning. I am proud that this profession. Teaching has given me so much inspiration and joy over the years. It touches my heart when a student remembers me after years have passed, and they tell me all about their interests with being in nature and making art.
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