Why teach? I don’t know what drew me to teaching, but I always knew I would be a teacher. Why, I am not sure. I was an average student, who worked hard. I didn’t necessarily like school. My teachers spanned the spectrum from those who were not memorable to whose whom I will always remember. I think back to teachers who impacted my life and who I am and they all cared, they knew and understood me and how I learned. They never quit, even when it would have been easy to walk away. They believed in me. I wonder if they know how much they impacted and guided my life and who I am today?
As a teacher I have push myself to be the best and always look for ways to improve. Upon completing my undergraduate program, I had an experience at summer camp for students with special needs that impacted who I am and what I do today. A student at camp said, “This is the only place that I can come and people don’t stare at me and ask me what’s wrong. I get to be me.” This comment resonated with me and inspired me to pursue my Masters Degree in Exceptional Education.
After teaching as a special education teacher for several years, I became restless and wanted to ensure that all students had what they needed to be successful. My background in Special Education proved to be a crucial element as I moved to a regular education classroom. I recall a comment a professor once said, “Fair is not everyone being treated equally; fair is giving everyone what they need to learn.” Originally I thought being a classroom teacher was where I would always be. It was a place where I was in control and could positively impact the lives of students. No matter what was going on in my student’s lives, my classroom was safe and learning was fun. What I did everyday in the classroom mattered and impacted my student’s lives. Working with parents and students was very gratifying, but I was only able to impact the learning and lives of students who were in my classroom.
As a result of going though the National Board Certification process I began to examine my teaching practices more closely. This process pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone. Through analyzing and reflecting I refined my teaching techniques. I began to really question what I did and why, examining how I influenced student learning. Realizing that my strengths in the classroom were important qualities to share with all teachers, I moved into an instructional coaching role. It was exciting having the chance to impact the entire school, to share teaching practices. It was challenging and rewarding, working with teachers at different points of their careers.
After several years as a coach, I had an opportunity to become an elementary principal. This role is vast and overwhelming, yet calming and rewarding all at the same time. Each day is filled with familiar patterns and unexpected obstacles. I continue to analyze and reflect on my impact on teaching and learning. As I work with teachers at different stages, I wonder why they decided to teach? What factors did they consider?