We all remember a teacher who inspired us. An individual who has always believed in us, supported us through challenges, sparked our passion for a topic, or inspired us to keep going when we were discouraged. For me, I was fortunate enough to have many teachers who shaped my academic career and passion for education. In addition to being teachers, these individuals served as mentors, nurses, counselors, parents, friends, and ultimately, role models.
Teacher Feature, a new blog series by The School Planner Company, will highlight educators from all over the country. These teachers and education entrepreneurs make an impact in and outside of the classroom sharing valuable knowledge with students and fellow teachers through influential sites and blogs. We are excited to launch the Teacher Feature blog series and bring awareness to how much teachers do each day, the relationships they foster with their students, and ultimately, how we as a community can best support them. Look forward to new teacher features regularly!
If you know an amazing educator who you think we should feature, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deborah Baldwin, DramaMommaSpeaks.com
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I come from a long line of teachers so teaching was in my blood. My paternal grandmother was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in western Kansas in the late 1800’s. My maternal grandmother created the first kindergarten in Japan in the late 1800s as well. My aunts were teachers as was my mother and my sister. When we’d get together, it wasn’t unusual to talk about education and its importance. It’s just what we did.
What inspires you as a teacher and education influencer?
Now that I’m retired, I’m inspired by the teachers working far too hard in their classrooms. I know they need help. I would have appreciated the support I’m providing to them. I was all alone creating curriculum when I began some forty years ago.
Tell us one of your most memorable moments of your teaching career?
I taught a young man who had severe learning challenges. He came to school in dirty clothes, hair a mess and a big chip on his shoulder. I noticed he was very funny and capitalized on this talent. The first time I cast him in the class play (a part of his arts rotation), he stole the show with only one line. For the next several years, I directed him. His specialist support him and helped him with all of the lines he learned from one particular production. He always awed the audience. When he was in high school he wanted to travel with our bus tour to New York City. The first year, he received a scholarship from the tour company to do so. The next time he raised the money himself through a summer work program. Probably one of my most favorite memories of him is when we toured the the Apollo Theater and he stepped on its stage. His face just beamed when he told a joke standing under the Apollo stage lights. I’ll never forget it!
What do you hope your students take away from your classroom?
Theater class builds a student’s self confidence right from the beginning of our first class. I ask my classes to applaud for each other during warm-ups and at the end of improvisation exercises. It may sound ridiculous, but for some students it’s the only time in the entire day someone notices them and gives them attention. This is HUGE!
What is a misconception about teaching that you would love to clarify?
People need to understand that education changes with society norms and behavior. Therefore, education is constantly in a state of flux and teachers may come across as erratic, but it’s just the contrary. We are trying to reach our youth where they come from and this can change very quickly. How teachers approach teaching three years ago may be completely different now, especially in light of Covid. The public also thinks they know what it’s like to be a teacher because they were once a student. It is a completely different perspective from the front of the classroom.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to a new teacher?
Give yourself three years teaching experience before you make a decision of whether or not it’s a good fit for you. Teaching is like any career – it takes time to find your groove. If as a teacher you feel unsafe, then change schools, but don’t quit teaching because of one experience. I would have quit teaching in my first year if I had made that decision in the front of the classroom.
What is the value of students writing by hand versus digital only?
I like for my students to write by hand rather than using a digital device. The mere motion of writing something down helps your brain remember it better. A very useful trick to memorizing one’s lines for a play is to write them down and quiz oneself with them. You won’t believe how much faster and better you remember and retain the lines in your memory.
Why do you feel paper planners are beneficial for students?
Oh yes! My youngest daughter received her first paper planner in middle school and now twenty years later she still uses one.
What is one fun way you have motivated your students?
I don’t know if it’s fun, but I really believe anyone can learn to be an actor if they learn the tools and make themselves vulnerable to learning experiences in my classroom. I tell them, “I will believe in you and what you can do until you can believe in yourself as much as I do.”
Any creative tips for helping a student get into a routine of writing in a planner?
I’d say use it for twenty-one days and it should become a habit.
If you could design your ideal teacher planner, what three things would you be sure it includes?
I’d include a place for reflection, an inspirational quote and maybe a joke ever so often.