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.
Angel Garrett, The Sweet Life of Primary
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I switched schools at the start of my fourth grade year and while I did great at my previous school, I was pretty behind in my new school. My teachers from fourth grade through eighth grade worked tirelessly to get me back on track and on the same playing field as my peers. The amount of time, patience, and encouragement was so appreciated and will never go unnoticed. While I didn’t quite know in what capacity at the time, I knew from those moments that I wanted to be that sense of hope for other children. Being a kindergarten teacher, I have the absolute pleasure of teaching kids to love school while also teaching all the foundational skills that set them up for success for years to come! It’s so rewarding! I get to live out my dream every day with my kinderbabies!
Tell us one of your most memorable moments of your teaching career?
Just last school year, I had a Spanish speaking student who knew very little English. He knew “Hi” and ”Bye”, but not much beyond that. His mother apologized profusely saying that she knew it was her fault, but she wanted him to learn and have a good education here in America. Upon doing beginning of the year assessments with him, it was clear that he really was at a deficit. I made it my mission for him to be super comfortable in the classroom. I gave him directions/instructions through Siri, found books in Spanish, and buddied him up with another Spanish speaking student who could do some basic translating for him.
When we had to go virtual, his mom was right there with him almost every day and if she was not available, she arranged for another family member to be sitting right next to him. During one of our small group times, his mother asked if she could stay on longer to talk to me about his report card. I spoke with her, told her how much progress he had made, and that he still had some work to do, but she should be so proud! The progress that he made at the level he was, was truly amazing! She broke down and cried with me on Google Meet. She said that she had been working so hard to keep up with his homework even though she was working and going to school herself. As I teared up, I thanked HER for all the hard work she did at home and how that was a huge part of his progress! I only had him for a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things and she worked so hard to keep the momentum going at home. That is no easy feat! My student could not have made the leaps and bounds without his mom doing what she did at home. I appreciated HER!
I will never forget the feeling I had when she thanked me. The genuine appreciation reminded me of why I became a teacher. I instantly forgot about all the stress that came with teaching, especially through a pandemic, and was able to hold on tight to that feeling of knowing I made a difference. It was amazing and unforgettable. That mom will never know just how much that meant to me!
Other than that pretty incredible moment, my very first kindergarten class comes to mind because they are the group of kids who officially made me a teacher. They were the first to help mold me into the teacher I am today! We grew together that year in a way that is different from the following years. They will always hold a special place in my heart.
I also enjoy the progress that my kids make from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. One year in particular that comes to mind is when we went from 30% of my class reading at or above grade level to 92% of my class reading at or above grade level at the end of the year! Talk about a celebration! Moments like these are golden! 🙂
What do you hope your students take away from your classroom?
I hope that students are able to walk away from my class at the end of the year and know that even though they are moving on and will inevitably leave kindergarten far behind them, that they are always welcome and loved by me. Our class started as a little family away from home and they will forever be “my kids!”
What is a misconception about teaching that you would love to clarify?
I will never forget scrolling through Facebook one day and a local news station posted about making kindergarten a requirement. Someone commented and said, “What for? My kids can color at home.” It was so demoralizing to know that there are really people out there that have no idea what teachers (from K all the way through high school) do on a day-to-day basis. Teaching is not just a glorified daycare. Teachers work so hard to make learning fun and engaging, all while also trying to help kids inevitably become productive members of society. We really do care about your kids and want what’s best for them. I would like anyone who cannot fully understand the value of a teacher and think about where they would be without all their teachers through the years. How would they have become masters at their job without once having a teacher teach them? We are shaping the future… kindergarten really ain’t your grandma’s kindergarten anymore. We’re doing way more than just coloring, I promise!
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to a new teacher?
It’s okay if teaching is not your entire life. Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers, but it can also quickly take over. Set boundaries and stick to them! It’s ok! You can have boundaries and still be an awesome teacher. 🙂