I feel like these are questions I ask myself on a daily basis, answer, and then revise constantly.
My dad's second wife once told me that I would be a good teacher after watching me work with my then-step-sister on her homework. In college when I changed my major in my junior year from Athletic Training to English, the first question I often got was "So are you going to be a teacher?". My answer at the time was always a resounding NO. I thought I would go into publishing or become an editor. During my undergrad, the thought of being responsible for molding young minds seemed too daunting. I was much happier with the idea that my most important responsibility at the time was giving guided tours of my favorite workplace to-date.
My teaching journey began when I decided to leave a call-center job in finance. At the time, I was living in Arizona and was ready to do just about anything to get out of being on the phone 10 hours a day. You see, like a lot of teachers I know, I'm a bit of an introvert. Taking calls all day was exhausting. After only 6 months of work in AZ, I was enrolled in the Master's in Special Education/MM Credential Program at Chapman University, my alma mater. While enrolled in the program, I worked for the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). I got a lot of amazing experience working for CARD. Not only did I see first hand what the home life of some of my future students was like, I also got to shadow some kiddos at school and get a unique outsider-but-insider perspective.
In the time since then, I've worked in a private 1:1 school teaching AP Lit and Comp students, moved on into a very affluent and litigious district teaching 5th and 6th grade SAI 1's and 2's, and finally come to settle in my current role as a high school resource math teacher. I've been a travel teacher, shared a room with an orchestra, and for the first time this year I'm getting my very own full-sized classroom.
Teaching math was something I never saw myself doing, and yet, I have cultivated a deep appreciation for the subject. Jo Boaler's book Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching was a game-changer for me. It gave me permission to teach math in a way that is much different from the way I was taught. And you know? That's what our students need.
Subject matter aside, this year I have tried to open myself up to as many new teaching ideas, experiences, and schools of thought. I've listened to so many podcasts, audiobooks, TedTalks in an effort to become better for my students that things are starting to run together. In the upcoming year, I hope to start integrating standards-based grading, UDL, and my Google Certification training.
Most importantly, I want to do a better job of engaging my students. After reading Innovator's Mindset and Teach Like A Pirate, I want my class to be somewhere both my students and I want to be. In the past, I'd resolved to hold myself to some professional ideal that I made up in my mind at one point--those ideals made me a bit stuffy, rigid, and probably quite boring. I'm trying to let go of the idea of what "a great teacher" looks like and allow that "great teacher" to look like me.
As long as I'm putting my student's needs first; I can be good, I can be great, I'm not an imposter.
Here's to another year 2018-2019, bring on the learning!
Now go get your free slurpee!