Why I Became an Educator

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.  ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

When I was an elementary student, my curiosity about my world and what I was learning was always left unsatisfied.  I wondered, as I completed the math drills and diagramming of sentences, “Why do I need to know this?  When will I ever need to use this?”  When I learned about geography, the places about which I was learning were nothing more than fantastic wisps of information.  I had no connections to the curriculum and my own life experiences.  I believed that school was only a necessary obstacle to adulthood. 

Though I struggled as a reader, I was clever enough to make strong grades and to graduate in the top ten percent of my class.  Still, I never saw a connection to the real world and what I was learning.  My education was nothing more than a contrived effort to please a teacher and was significantly short of authentic learning.  

In 4th grade I met the teacher who would be the first to change my life.  Mr. Joshua believed in me though my shyness and insecurity was almost debilitating.  He encouraged me, celebrated me, highlighted my abilities, and lit the spark in me to believing in myself.  It was the first time I saw learning and school as something to enjoy and something I could do for myself.

In 7th grade I met the second teacher who would show me that teachers cared about us as people.  Coach Murff created a science class filled with laughter, experiential learning, and commitment to making sure that we all understood the concepts he was teaching.  Even back in 1987, he was a teacher who believed in allowing students to collaborate and experience learning.

In 10th grade I met my last of my K-12 teachers who would influence me to teach.  Mr. Christian, my calculus teacher, taught me that games could be powerful learning tools.  His made learning fun and effortless.

And because of these extraordinary educators, I applied to college to become a teacher.  It wasn't until my sophomore year, however, that I discovered the power of innovative teaching.  It wasn't until I attended my American Literature course in college that I was finally introduced to 100% authentic learning.  The historical significance of and influences behind the fictional story lines and characters of which we were studying illuminated the darkened and neglected part of my belief system about education.  What I had always thought was shattered.  A new life was breathed into my desire to learn and at 19 years old,  I became, for the first time in my life, a student. 

When I decided to become an educator, I wanted not only to make a difference in the lives of children, but in my community also.  I wanted to ensure that every child that graced my classroom doorway would leave with a firm understanding of why and how the curriculum could be used in his/her life.  I wanted to tear down the walls and expose my students to the world--their world—and the world of endless opportunities.  I wanted to teach them that regardless of their age, economical situation, or ability level, they could succeed in making a difference in their own lives and their community.

As a 2nd grade classroom teacher in the 21st century, it is imperative that I constantly educate myself on the latest technologies, games, interests, and pop cultural influences that engage my students daily.  I am an active member of TCEA, ISTE, Discovery Education as a DEN STAR educator and Texas Leadership Council Member, a Glogster Ambassador and Reseller, an ePals Ambassador, an Edmodo Educator, a Smithsonian Classroom teacher and a member of the Smithsonian’s Center for Education’s Advisory Committee, a 2011 Microsoft Innovative Educator.  It is important that I not only seek other innovative educators for my PLN, and learn from them, but to share my methodology with them.  Being an educator means reaching beyond the classroom walls and immediate group of students into a global classroom of students and educators.  I lead several professional development courses for my district and campus each year, parent workshops both in person and online, and have presented at TCEA, Microsoft IEF, and will be presenting at ISTE 2012.

I believe that the two most important jobs on Earth are being a parent and teacher.  I take my role as both extremely seriously and approach my classroom as a way to extend the “family” for my students.  I encourage parent participation through technology and visits to the classroom, utilize their “expertise” in virtual and on-site field trips, and teach as I would want my own children taught: with respect, encouragement, and the conviction to continuously motivate students to raise their own bars and fan the flame of intrinsic learning within themselves.  I often quote arguably one of the most influential and inspirational educators in history, Anne Sullivan, who said, My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mind, and behold, all things are changed!”  This perfectly expresses the mood and focus of my classroom daily.  This is truly what my work is all about.

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