This week’s Teacher Feature is about Heather Thompson. I’ve never met Heather but she sounds awesome! I was thrilled when I got an email from Carolyn Kay, a teacher assistant in second grade at Powhatan Elementary School who believes the spotlight should shine on Heather. I love when colleagues what to share the greatness of a colleague!
1. What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide? I am a Second Grade teacher.
I teach all subjects in a regular classroom setting while providing differentiated learning opportunities for all levels.
2. Would you describe your school setting?
Our school is a neighborhood school located in the small town of Clayton, NC and is comprised of incredible, dedicated teachers and informed, engaged parents.
3. How long have you been teaching?
4. What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment?
I have taught Kindergarten, First grade, and Third Grade at the elementary school level. I have also served as a Math Curriculum Coach at the elementary level and also taught for almost ten years at the college level.
5. What inspired you to become a teacher?
My father always knew that I had the gift of teaching others. He recognized this as early as my sophomore year of high school. I fought the idea of becoming a teacher tooth and nail and had five other majors in college before deciding to resist the path that had been given to me. I finally realized that I wanted to become a teacher while working with children at the local YMCA. There was this one child on which I had an impact... however the impact he made on me was life changing. It opened my eyes to the difficult job that teachers have before them and I accepted that challenge.
6. What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you?
I know that you love me and always will. I have told them all that once you are mine, you are always mine.
7. What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching?
The constant assessments and testing that take away from instructional time. The constant assignment of new tasks or duties that have nothing to do with instruction. The constant piling on of new programs or curriculum and nothing being taken away, therefore it is impossible to get it all completed to the best of your ability in the time provided. The lack of materials and resources. The money out of my own pocket that I have to spend to stock my classroom with materials from which students will learn...over $2000 this year alone. The lack of alignment of curriculum and consistency among schools, counties, and states.
8. What do you feel is the best thing about teaching?
The children... the fun we have daily and their engagement in the learning process where they are excited to learn and want more and more. The children... their honesty about the world and its problems and how easy it is to just forgive and forget. The children... their unconditional love no matter how high my expectations, or how badly I sing, or how horribly I do a cartwheel in class to celebrate small successes. :-)
9. What is the biggest issue in education that you wish the state or federal government would address and why?
10. What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?
Decide on ONE area at a time, Leveled Reading Groups for example, and focus on that area and become an expert on that and determine what works for you. Then, move on to another and then another. You can not be great at everything all at one time. And take it from experience young sweet teacher that wants to change the world...you really don't know everything. I thought I did too...long ago. Most importantly, as much as that ONE (and every classroom has that ONE) drives you almost to your wits end... that child belongs to a mom and dad who think he or she is the most precious thing in the world. It is the old adage, treat others as you would like to be treated yet it becomes... teach others the way you would want your own children to be taught.
11. If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful?
The latest technology appropriate for all grade levels so that learners could be fully engaged and would be able to share learning that is taking place with their parents digitally. Parents work. We no longer have textbooks. We are presently using an app in my classroom that envelopes this idea of the digital portfolio however we do not have the number of chromebooks or iPads to allow full participation within my classroom. A fully funded Science lab could be instrumental in a deep understanding of scientific principles and would get more students excited about the field.
12. If you could have anybody in the world visit your school (alive or dead), who would it be?
I would love to say some famous person that we could ooh and ahh over but it would be most beneficial for our schools, for our teachers, and for our children to have the lawmakers come and teach an entire day in a real classroom with real students. These representatives are making decisions about what happens in classrooms and have never stepped foot inside the walls. I welcome them... it is truly the most awesome experience, teaching. I have such power as a teacher to determine the fate of the life of a little person. I am so fortunate to be able to do exactly what I was made to do and love each and every minute of it.
If you know of any teacher that deserves to have the spotlight shine on them, please let me know! Just email me their contact information and I will get in touch with them! Thanks!