Every February 14, millions of couples gush about why they love each other. Since this is the season for proclaiming passions, we asked six educators a simple question: “What do you love about teaching?” Here’s what they said.
Sonja Parks: Watching learning in action
The best teachers are also great listeners. I love being an educator because I have been able to not only watch students in my district learn, but also help my teachers improve their skills and become facilitators—not lecturers. This year we implemented Lightspeed’s Activate System, which has strengthened the connection between teachers and students and has empowered students to take ownership of their own learning. Thanks to our Rockin’ Classrooms of the Future, teachers have been able to streamline communication and students are learning to listen to each other and work in groups, which is an essential 21st-century skill. I love to watch learning in action and encourage everyone in our district to learn something new every day.
Camille Cavazos: Getting to know students (and their families)
I love getting to know my students throughout the year. Every year, there’s a new batch of students with shiny, bright eyes, eager to learn something new and fun. If I improve the life of just one student, I’ve made a difference. It’s so easy to come back every year because you have another chance to be a molder of dreams. It’s amazing to see how students grow academically from start to finish.
I also like getting to know my students’ families through my parent-teacher communication app, Bloomz. Not only can I send daily messages about homework, attendance, and behavior, but I am able to do real-time assignments that get parents involved in the fun of learning. For example, I did a treasure hunt competition with the help of parents. The first 10 students to submit pictures of the three types of angles found at home or in public would receive free homework passes. It was a race to the finish, and since I required the pictures to be submitted through the app, it required parents to engage with their children’s learning at home. I also did a similar assignment where students had to find and post pictures of the different types of precipitation. The kids loved these, and so did the parents. Some even posted videos!
Raven Ham: Helping dyslexic students grow
As the dyslexia specialist for my district, I get to work with students in all different grade levels. I screen students for dyslexia and meet with students’ teachers to get more information about their grades and standardized test scores so I can get a better idea of where they’re struggling. Our reading intervention software, Reading Horizons, also allows us to see detailed reports on where students are in their learning so we can start them off at the right spot in the curriculum. I then work with struggling readers one-on-one or in small groups.
Every student I encounter is different, and they all have their own special gifts and personality. I love getting to know each one of them, figuring out what they’re good at and what motivates them. A student recently told me that our time together was her favorite part of the day, and numerous others have told me that they can see a real difference in their classroom reading after using the reading-intervention software. I love seeing them learn as a result of what we do together.
Timothy Fung: Learning something new every day
I love being an educator because being an educator is to be an active and positive force in the vortex of learning and growing—where learning is thoroughly engaging, teaching is challenging and creative, the learning tools are improving, and the new insights gained from the new learnings make it all such wonderful fun for everyone. Wow! Now, especially, with the exciting new 21st-century educational tools such as myON, the education vortex spirals and glows with both educators’ and students’ love of reading. The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment as an educator for me grows every day.
Caroline Messenger: Differences bring us together
What I love about being a teacher is diversity. Now is an exciting time to be an educator. Educational research has shown us that the rich diversity of our country and our students demands a different approach to learning, one that values our students and their experiences. Project-based learning is a way to value student voice and choice while challenging students to put skills and content together to make something new, better, or efficient. When we celebrate and tap into our students’ rich diversity and backgrounds, we can better design learning that motivates, enriches, and connects them to others. It is how we can create and nurture deep understanding that leads to innovation and change in our world.
Bryan Flaig: Watching children discover something new
I never tire of seeing a child discover something new about his or her world. In the makerspace at John Gill Elementary in Redwood City, Calif., our district’s STEAM school, we have a table full of homemade circuit blocks, battery packs, light bulbs, buzzers, motors, and switches. Each time I visit the space, I find our youngest students making something light up, buzz, or move, followed by screams of excitement. I hang out at this table when I want a reminder of why I love being an educator.